Drayer: Mariners to have some key coaches work remotely through 2020
Some familiar faces and voices will be missing, in person at least, during the Mariners Summer Camp and 2020 season.
Thursday afternoon, the team announced that infield coach Perry Hill, hitting coach Tim Laker and bullpen coach Brian DeLunas will work remotely for summer camp and the duration of the season.
The remainder of the staff, Manny Acta (third base coach) Jarret DeHart (assistant hitting coach), Jared Sandberg (bench coach), Nasusel Cabrera (batting practice pitcher), Carson Vitale (Major League field coordinator), Pete Woodworth (pitching coach) and Fleming Baez (bullpen catcher) will be on the field for the first workouts Friday.
While no reasons were stated in a press release for the trio to be sitting out, Hill at age 68 falls into the COVID-19 higher risk category with Laker and DeLunas suffering from health issues that would be of concern as well.
On a positive note, DeLunas can still contribute greatly with perhaps his biggest strength being on the technology side being able to break down pitcher mechanics and apply his biomechanics background to improving performance. Laker can, and has been throughout the shutdown, do some of the same things remotely and do so with an assistant in DeHart who has already gained the confidence of the hitters.
The loss of Hill live and in person every day will be a blow for his infielders who in a word, love him. Shortstop J.P. Crawford credits Hill for saving his career.
“He always holds you accountable and you can call him at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and you know he’s going to answer,” Crawford said in the Mariners’ “Black Voices in Baseball” roundtable discussion which featured Crawford, Dee Gordon, Shed Long, Kyle Lewis and Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims. “He’s one of those coaches you know you can go to for anything and you know he’s got your back, you know what I’m saying? He’s one of those guys who you know he’s got you in anything. You don’t get a lot of those at all.”
Gordon who worked with Hill when the two were in Miami together believes that Hill’s tutelage led to his Gold Glove Award.
“Dave, see that back there?” Gordon told Sims during their video talk. “I bought him one, too … He has one.”
Long was also extremely complimentary of Hill’s ability to connect with all his players.
“He doesn’t see the color,” Long said during the roundtable. “I follow this dude so much and he’s just a great guy no matter what. He cares about you for the person that you are, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Incoming first baseman Evan White was also looking forward to working every day with Hill, who had checked in with him throughout his 2019 minor league season.
In truth, it won’t be just the infielders who miss Hill. While the Mariners oldest coach, he very well may have been the most energetic coach in camp, his constant up beat banter punctuated with a loud “Stop it!” when something in particular met his approval.
In addition to the Major League coaches, the following staff have been invited to Mariners Summer Camp: Trent Blank, Louis Boyd, Connor Dawson, Rob Marcello, Andy McKay, Kristopher Negrón, Cesar Nicolas, Hugh Quattlebaum, Ari Ronick, Joe Thurston, Max Weiner and Dan Wilson.