By Shannon Drayer
Lloyd McClendon’s coaching staff is now complete. The Mariners announced Monday that they have hired Rick Waits as pitching coach, Mike Rojas as bullpen coach, Howard Johnson as hitting coach, Andy Van Slyke as first-base coach, John Stearns as third-base coach and Chris Woodward as infield coach. Trent Jewett had previously been named bench coach.
Some quick thoughts before the conference call: This is a good mix of McClendon and organizational guys with McClendon previously working with Van Slyke and Rojas and the rest of the hires announced Monday coming from the Mariners organization.
Before the managerial search began, general manager Jack Zduriencik said he was looking for a manager and a staff who would have a great ability to teach. This staff reflects that with many years of minor-league experience. We also see the addition of a designated infield coach in Woodward. He has worked closely with young Mariners infielders both last year in his first year as roving infield coordinator and as a player in his final years. Dustin Ackley credited Woodward for helping him with his transition to second base when both were with the Rainiers.
Van Slyke’s name was given to me shortly after McClendon was hired as a possible coach. I was told it would be a huge hire for the Mariners if he were still interested in coaching (he has been out for the past four seasons after serving as the Tigers’ first-base coach from 2006-2009) not for his skills as a first- or third-base coach but because he is an excellent outfield instructor.
Waits has been the minor-league pitching coordinator for the last three seasons and has worked one-on-one with a number of young pitchers, including Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. He has extensive experience in player development.
Stearns finished last year managing the Rainiers, where Johnson was the hitting coach. The young players will have plenty of familiarity with both.
Will have more after the conference call.