His status as a Mariners legend likely didn’t hurt, but Edgar Martinez survived Friday’s on-field staff purge because new general manager Jerry Dipoto views him as a good fit as a hitting coach.
“Sitting with (Martinez) this week,” Dipoto said, “and listening to him talk about the players, listening to him break down hitting, and just clearly how invested he was in making the players better, really excited (me).
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to bring him back, and I think this is where he wants to be.”
Martinez and infield coach Chris Woodward, pending contract agreements, will be the only holdovers on next season’s big-league coaching staff in the wake of Friday’s housecleaning.
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Dipoto fired manager Lloyd McClendon along with four members of his staff: bench coach Trent Jewett, third-base coach Rich Donnelly, outfield coach Andy Van Slyke and bullpen coach Mike Rojas.
Two other members of McClendon’s staff, pitching coach Rick Waits and quality-control coach Chris Prieto, will be offered other assignments within the organization.
Martinez, 52, replaced Howard Johnson as the club’s hitting coach on June 20 and, coincidence or not, the Mariners’ then-lagging attack perked up — from averaging 3.38 runs a game to averaging 4.53 runs a game.
Players often cited Martinez’s positive approach as a key to improvement.
“He knows it’s hard,” utilityman Brad Miller said. “He knows it a mental game. That it’s a game of failure. But he’s just so positive with it, and I really like that.”
Martinez said his approach stemmed from his own experiences in an 18-year career, all with the Mariners, that included two batting titles, five Silver Slugger awards and seven All-Star appearances.
“I didn’t want to hear what I’m doing wrong,” he said. “Most players know that they’re doing something wrong. It’s more, ‘How can I fix it?’
“Focus on positive information so they can start feeling good about their swing and their game.”
Woodward, 39, just completed his second season as a big-league coach and also draws strong marks from players. Third baseman Kyle Seager often cites Woodward as the reason for his emergence as a Gold Glove recipient.
“Woody has worked so much with me,” Seager said. “Everything he says makes sense from a practical perspective, and it’s repeatable.”
Dipoto said he quickly reached the same conclusion.
“I felt that with Chris Woodward,” he said, “we were watching a real impact coach. It’s hard in the big leagues to step in and make an impact early in your coaching career as a young guy like Chris did.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon: Fired with one year remaining on contract.
Bench coach Trent Jewett: Fired.
Pitching coach Rick Waits: To be offered another assignment in organization.
Hitting coach Edgar Martinez: Will return (pending contract agreement).
Third-base coach Rich Donnelly: Fired.
First-base coach Chris Woodward: Will return (pending contract agreement).
Outfield coach Andy Van Slyke: Fired.
Bullpen coach Mike Rojas: Fired.
Quality control coach Chris Prieto: To be offered another assignment in organization.