Brian DeLunas, former Mariners bullpen coach, dies at 46

Jan 17, 2022, 4:19 PM | Updated: Jan 18, 2022, 11:21 am
Mariners base general...
A general view of a base before a Seattle Mariners game against the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 27, 2021. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

“Man…what an amazing coach and even more of an amazing human.” – Mariners pitcher Erik Swanson

In a loss that will hit a number of Mariners hard, former Seattle bullpen coach Brian DeLunas died Sunday night. He was just 46 years old.

News of DeLunas’ death was shared Monday afternoon by the University of Missouri baseball program, which DeLunas spent 2021 with as pitching coach.

An outside the box hire as bullpen coach in the winter of 2017, DeLunas joined the Mariners staff having never played professionally or coached in a major league organization. A biomechanics specialist, he had privately coached a number of professionals at his St. Louis-area high performance pitching center.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto expanded the team’s pitching coach staff that winter looking to add what players sought from the outside in the offseason, and DeLunas was able to deliver, incorporating his knowledge of biomechanics and pitching technology into pitch shaping and breaking down mechanical problems in deliveries.

The following season, DeLunas’ reach was expanded as he was promoted to Mariners director of pitching development and strategies, and he had a hand in the development of every pitcher that came through the Mariners organization. If their eyes were open, these pitchers took more from DeLunas than his expertise in breaking down mechanics.

While DeLunas was traveling from city to city with the big league club or dropping in and out of minor league outposts, he was battling kidney disease. He had undergone a transplant a decade earlier and the function of that kidney was falling dramatically. The prospect of success for a second transplant, if a match was even able to be found, was not good. Managing his health was a daily and sometimes hourly struggle, yet that was not the face DeLunas put forward.

No, the face DeLunas put forth in 2018 was that of the first-time big leaguer, which he was. He took enjoyment in the “firsts” of being on a new big league field or on the big league plane. After a win in southern California, you might see him on the hotel deck, feet up, cigar in hand, enjoying a beautiful evening. An even better day would be if his family was along for the trip, his young son Rory his shadow.

Still, sometimes the color in his face was a little off, his step a little slower. But the words would be light, the demeanor to push through. He was there for his pitchers and anyone who wanted to talk pitching regardless of how he was feeling, something we were lucky enough to do in a podcast for 710 ESPN Seattle in 2019 (video included at the bottom of this post). As a result, he made Mariners pitchers throughout the organization better and reporters more knowledgeable.

A valiant fight came to an end Sunday night. An immeasurable loss for those who were close to him.

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