Wedge bringing back entire coaching staff
One of the first things Eric Wedge vowed when he took over as Mariners manager last year was to stop the merry-go-round on the club’s coaching staff.
So chalk it up as no major surprise — but a most-welcome change — when Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik announced Wednesday that the entire coaching group will return intact next season.
That means Robby Thompson returns as bench coach and infield coordinator, Carl Willis is back as pitching coach, Chris Chambliss as hitting coach, Mike Brumley at first base, Jeff Datz at third base, Jaime Navarro in the bullpen and Jason Phillips as the bullpen catcher.
According to Jeff Evans of the Mariners baseball information department, it’s the first time since 2002 — the final year of Lou Piniella’s tenure — that the club didn’t make a change in its staff over the offseason.
“Having the staff return next season is another positive step as we continue to build our Major League team, and organization, to where we want it,” Zduriencik said in a statement released by the team. “It is a group of hard-working professionals.”
Wedge noted that continuity is critical for a staff working to establish a new tone with so many young players.
“I feel we made progress this season,” Wedge said, “and this group was a big part of it. They work hard, they understand the game, and they are willing and able to teach, while being unwilling to accept less than full effort. We did a good job creating a mindset here last season, and we are looking forward to improvement in 2012.”
Continuity in the hitting coach position has been particularly rare for the Mariners over the past decade, as Gerald Perry (2000-02), Lamar Johnson (2003), Paul Molitor (2004), Don Baylor (2005), Jeff Pentland (2006-08), Lee Elia (2008), Alan Cockrell (2009-10) and Alonzo Powell (2010) all filled that job prior to Chambliss’ arrival last season.