SHANNON DRAYER

Drayer: How former M’s reliever Danny Farquhar landed back with Mariners as a coach

Jan 20, 2024, 10:48 AM

Seattle Mariners Danny Farquhar...

Danny Farquhar of the Seattle Mariners pitches on June 17, 2014. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

New Seattle Mariners pitching strategist and assistant pitching coach Danny Farquhar has the unique distinction of having both one of the more notable arrivals and departures in team history with the trade of a global icon bringing him to Seattle and the trade that sent him away, the first entrant in the Mariners file for Trader Jerry.

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“I still call it the Farquhar trade,” the new Mariners coach joked of being traded from the Yankees along with D.J. Mitchell for Ichiro. As for being part of Jerry Dipoto’s first Mariners trade, a November deal that sent Farquhar along with Brad Miller and Logan Morrison to Tampa for Nate Karns, Boog Powell and CJ Riefenhauser, until recently that day marked the last time he spoke with Dipoto.

It turns out it didn’t deter Farquhar from asking if he could come back to Seattle. Farquahar, who had been the White Sox Double A-affiliate Birmingham Barons pitching coach, took note earlier this winter that the Mariners were out a bullpen coach when Stephen Vogt took the manager job in Cleveland. He figured it was worth a cold call to Dipoto.

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“I reached out to Jerry to see if there were any opportunities,” he said. “We had a great conversation and the ball got rolling there. I had a lot of different conversations with other people in the organization and they thought I was the right fit for the job.”

Farquhar brings significant big league experience having played in the majors for four teams over seven seasons. He has been through the ups and downs that mark the careers of many relievers. He also brings the appreciation of someone who almost lost it all. Literally all, after suffering a brain aneurism in a game with the White Sox in 2018.

“If you look at the statistics, the odds were absolutely stacked against me,” he said. “The fact that I was I was on a major league mound and I was in the ER in I think like 21 minutes? I was very thankful just first to be alive.”

On the Hot Stove Show, Farquhar detailed what was one of the scariest sights to ever be seen on in a major league field, the aftermath and the attempted comeback. While his journey back as pitcher ended on a spring training field in 2019, the door to coaching opened to him quickly after. It was something he had thought about before the brain aneurism and an opportunity he jumped at.

“I knew I wanted to continue with the baseball life,” he said. “I just enjoy being in the dugout, the travel with the guys. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a fun industry to be part of. It’s very fulfilling now as a coach to be able to bring your knowledge, your experiences to the players.”

While coaching at the High-A and Double-A levels for the White Sox, Farquhar has discovered the job of pitching coach goes well beyond sharing experience. There is plenty to be learned on his end as well.

“The pitching is night and day,” he said of the changes and advances in the few years he has been off the field. “I was throwing the high fastball before people knew about the high fastball, and nobody was practicing to hit the high fastball. Now you look at the cages and they’ve got all these devices and all these machines that are training to hit the high heater. It is absolutely night and day.”

On the pitching end, Farquhar wonders what the current technology could have done for the pitchers in his day. Could they have added velocity? Could they have add breaking pitches? He will see it up close and personal with the Mariners. George Kirby taking a 2-seamer from a bullpen into a game within days of first trying it out? Unheard of a few years ago.

“Now it’s one of those that you in throw a bullpen, the pitcher sees the metrics, you see the numbers, and you’re like, ‘This pitch is going to work,'” he said. “And you can show the guy how great this pitch is going to be. They buy in and then they just start using it. That is completely normal in this day and age. Back when I was playing, it took a lot of catch play, a lot of bullpens, and then you still kind of questioned if the pitch was going to work. Now you have all the data to back that it’s going to work. And then you throw one and it’s successful. And then it just the confidence skyrockets from there.”

Farquhar is comfortable with the technology aspect of the job and excited to be coming to an organization that is analytics forward. Spending a year and a half in the Rays organization opened his eyes to that side of pitching.

“It’s a big aspect has changed night and day, even from when I was still playing in 2019,” he said. “What we know now and how it’s coached, it is absolutely one of those things where as a coach, you have to continue to grow, you have to continue to learn. And I would bet that in five to 10 years from now it’s even going to be no different than what it is right now. So just having that that mindset to want to continue to grow is a cool attribute.”

Despite all the tools that are now available to improve pitchers, Farquhar believes the human aspect is just as important. A good message is not an effective message unless it lands with the player. For a coach to have success, he must be able to connect with a diverse group of players. Farquhar is looking forward to getting to work with the Seattle Mariners.

“Every individual is different,” said Farquhar. “You have to figure out what each pitcher does best, what’s comfortable and make the most out of each pitcher. You have to have an open relationship with the pitchers. You have have to be able to ask them to do stuff. Maybe some things are a little uncomfortable. if you have that relationship with them, they will trust you and understand that their success, their well being is what you are trying to do. I think that is my strongsuit, building those relationships explaining to them why they need to do certain things and how it’s going to make them better. Just trying to get the most out of each individual and not make it like you have to pitch this way.”

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Drayer: How former M’s reliever Danny Farquhar landed back with Mariners as a coach