Mariners hire Hansen as new hitting coach
Dave Hansen, who ended his 15-year Major League career as a player with the Mariners in 2005, is returning to the club as its new hitting coach, general manager Jack Zduriencik announced Monday.
Hansen, 43, is a relative newcomer to coaching, but has been on the Mariners’ radar since interviewing with manager Eric Wedge for the same position when Wedge hired his first staff in 2011.
Hansen said he was runner-up to Chris Chambliss at that time and felt he just needed to get more experience, having worked four years in the D-backs’ Minor League system up to that point. So he hired on with the Dodgers and spent the past year and a half as their hitting coach before being dismissed following this past season.
The first question of many fans is why hire a guy who just got fired by the Dodgers, but it’s worth remembering that hitting coaches can only do so much and are usually the first to go when teams are disappointed with their offense. Lots of good hitting coaches have been hired and fired numerous times, it’s just part of the MLB spin cycle.
The Rangers, for instance, just hired their fifth hitting coach in the past four years. And Texas led the Majors in scoring last season.
Hansen understands the history of the Mariners’ hitting coaches, but is eager to see what he can do to help a young offensive nucleus that still finished last in the AL in scoring this past season.
“I think the job is tough just because when a team is not hitting or things aren’t clicking, that’s who they look to is the hitting coach,” Hansen said on a conference call with Seattle-area writers this afternon. “It’s usually [the coach] that has to move on, not the players.I know that first hand.
“It’s a tough job because people don’t realize just how much time hitting coaches put in. There’s no way around the video you have to watch to prepare every club you’re facing and then the individual routines that have to go on, so we’re in the cage constantly.
“There’s so many hours involved. I have so much appreciation for hitting coaches past and present. Just circumstances happen. It’s not necessarily personal with the hitting coaches, it’s just the organization usually thinks they need to make a change or get a different voice. But it’s certainly not for lack of effort.”
Hansen said he had several teams interested after his dismissal by the Dodgers, but the Mariners were the first to call “within hours” and “it’s safe to say the Seattle Mariners were my No. 1 choice.”
“We’ve got some talent, really good swings and aggressive hitters that maybe need a little more direction,” he said. “But I like the style of play Eric has created here already. It’s a great nucleus of kids that really buy into the Mariner way and I’m fortunate to jump in with them.”
Here is the full history of Mariners hitting coaches over the years:
1981: Tommy Davis
1984: Ben Hines
1985: Deron Johnson
1986: Deron Johnson
1987: Bobby Tolan
1988: Frank Howard
1989: Gene Clines
1990: Gene Clines
1991: Gene Clines
1992: Gene Clines
1993: Ken Griffey Sr.
1994: Lee Elia
1995: Lee Elia
1996: Lee Elia
1997: Lee Elia
1998: Jesse Barfield
1999: Jesse Barfield
2000: Gerald Perry
2001: Gerald Perry
2002: Gerald Perry
2003: Lamar Johnson
2004: Paul Molitor
2005: Don Baylor
2006: Jeff Pentland
2007: Jeff Pentland
2008: Jeff Pentland/Lee Elia/Jose Castro
2009: Alan Cockrell
2010: Alan Cockrell/Alonzo Powell
2011: Chris Chambliss
2012: Chris Chambliss
2013: Dave Hansen