Mariners hire a familiar hitting coach

DAve hansen: Once a role player for team, he has ‘a clear vision’ how to better equip hitters, Wedge says

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.comOctober 23, 2012 

Dave Hansen will attempt to do what so many before him could not – find a way to help the Seattle Mariners hit on a consistent basis.

On Monday, the organization announced that Hansen – a one-time Mariners utility player – had been named the hitting coach for the 2013 season. He will be the sixth to hold the job since 2008.

“I’m really excited to be back,” Hansen said during a conference call. “I loved it (Seattle) as a player. Safeco Field is first class, as well as the organization.”

Hansen, who had brief stints with the Mariners in 2004 and 2005, replaces Chris Chambliss, who was let go after two seasons on the job.

“I think Dave will be a good addition to our big league staff,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said in a press release. “He’s had success as both a coach and a player, and has a clear vision of how to help prepare our hitters to be successful.”

Hansen was recently let go as the hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In a coincidence, Hansen replaced Jeff Pentland with the Dodgers midway through the 2011 season on an interim basis.

Pentland was last season’s Tacoma Rainiers hitting coach and was hitting coach for the Mariners from 2005-08.

The Dodgers removed Hansen’s interim tag before this season. However, Hansen was the only coach on manager Don Mattingly’s staff not retained for 2013. He was offered another position within the organization, but he chose to look elsewhere.

The Mariners, specifically general manager Jack Zduriencik, contacted Hansen immediately.

“Other teams were involved as the process went on, but Jack and Eric were persistent,’’ Hansen said. “They had been keeping an eye on me since our first interview two years ago. They just wanted to make it happen, and I was more than happy to do the same. It feels good they were tracking me and wanted me back real bad.”

Hansen first interviewed for the hitting coach job two years ago when the Mariners hired Chambliss.

“At that time I didn’t have, I don’t think, quite the experience they were looking for,” Hansen said. “I needed to go get that experience, which I do have now.”

Before joining the Dodgers, Hansen worked for four seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor league system. He started as a hitting coach in 2007 at Double-A Mobile and became minor league hitting coordinator from 2008-10.

“I had the chance to talk to Dave several times, and have also talked to players and coaches he’s worked with, and we feel he is a great fit for our club,” Zduriencik said.

This season the Dodgers finished with an 86-76 record and missed out on the postseason. As a team, they averaged 3.93 runs per game - fourth worst in the National League. As a team, L.A. hit .252 with a .317 on-base percentage and a .690 OPS (third worst in the NL).

His basic philosophy of hitting isn’t much different than his predecessors.

“We need to create pressure on the defense,” Hansen said. “Obviously our number one goal is to touch home base, period, and to take the necessary steps to do that. That takes one-through-nine with the same mentality of how to get on base, drive runs in and do the little things to create runs. Within that, every guy is an individual and they’re going to develop their own approach to execute the right plan.”

Hansen spent most of his playing career with the Dodgers (11 years) as a third baseman and utility player. He was a career. 260 hitter with a career .360 on-base percentage.

After signing with the Padres as a free agent before the 2003 season, he was traded to the Mariners in 2004 along with Kevin Jarvis, Wiki Gonzalez and minor leaguer Vince Faison for Jeff Cirillo, Brian Sweeney and cash considerations.

In 2004, Hansen appeared in 57 games for Seattle, hitting .282 and was traded to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Jon Huber. After being released by the Cubs in 2005, he returned to the Mariners and appeared in 60 games, mostly as a pinch hitter. He hit .173.

Hansen and his wife, Julie, reside in San Clemente, Calif., with their three children.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 @RyanDivish

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