By Shannon Drayer
This is a first for me. On this job I have seen players make their debut and then years later play their last game. I have seen players leave and come back to the Mariners.
This is the first time I have seen I player I have covered return as a coach. It was something I hoped I would see someday as I mentioned in my last post.
Dave Hansen is the Mariners’ new hitting coach. I don’t know a ton about him as a coach but when he was a player here I was not the only one who believed he should coach some day. I mentioned this to him when I caught up with him shortly after the announcement of his hiring.
“I started to think that near the end of my career as I found myself sharing things with younger players and realized, hey, I know things,” he said with a laugh.
“Toward the end of my career I really started to lean that way. I was helping younger players learn their roles and prepare. I felt it was my responsibility as a veteran.”
Hansen was on two Mariners teams that had a good number of veterans in everyday roles but a bench stocked with very young players. Hansen shared the bench with the likes of Willie Bloomquist, Mike Morse and Greg Dobbs among others.
“It has been exciting to watch their careers develop, knowing that they were going to have something awesome if they kept pursuing it,” Hansen said.
I like this hire. In what I have seen from Hansen I believe he will relate well to the young Mariners hitters. He is ready for the challenge.
“All hitters are different and all have gifts they bring to the table,” he said. “My job is to help them to keep within themselves and help them be as sharp as they can be. The challenge with young guys is to get them to understand who they are and where they are in the game. It is important that they be themselves.”
Hansen has a decent amount of familiarity with the Mariners, having faced them in both spring training and regular-season games this year as well as seeing some of the younger players in the minor leagues. His thoughts on a few that he singled out:
Dustin Ackley: “Unbelievable hand-eye coordination.”
Kyle Seager: “Seager is special, always within himself.”
Justin Smoak: “Talented. Needs to work through to find that consistency.”
Franklin Gutierrez: “Can do some damage when healthy.”
Michael Saunders: “Good looking cat. Saw quite a bit of him in the minor leagues. There is a lot that he can do.”
Hansen said that he will reach out to the hitters over the phone and hopes to be able to work with a few this offseason. Before they talk hitting, however, he wants to learn more about them as people away from the game.
“It is important to get to know them and vice versa,” he said. “The relationship is huge. We will start with conversations, get to know about them, about their families. It is important as we become family away from family during the year.”
Eventually they will get into the cages and work will begin. The hitters will learn that Hansen has plenty to share, having spent 15 years in the big leagues battling to find consistency yet making adjustments when needed. He has been where a lot of them are and should have no problem communicating with them. This should be a great fit.