What shapes up as possibly the first major hire by new Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto gets, if nothing else, high marks in terms of thinking outside the box.
The News Tribune reported Tuesday the Mariners planned to hire Andy McKay, who spent the last three seasons as Colorado’s mental-skills coach, to replace Chris Gwynn as their farm director.
The Mariners confirmed the move on Wednesday afternoon.
McKay’s official title with the Rockies was peak performance coordinator. His responsibilities included working with players at all levels, including the big leagues. He also has 14 years of experience as a college coach.
Hiring McKay suggests Dipoto believes a better mental approach can help unlock the potential of several prospects, such as former first-round picks Alex Jackson and D.J. Peterson, who each had disappointing seasons.
It also reinforces previous indications that Dipoto views the Mariners’ player-development department as the culprit in the organization’s inability to provide the big-league club with a steady flow of homegrown talent.
While Dipoto opted to retain Tom McNamara as scouting director and Tim Kissner as director of international operations, Gwynn is departing after four seasons as the director of player development.
The Mariners have also fired several minor-league coaches.
McKay spent 14 years as the head coach at Sacramento City College prior to joining the Rockies in September 2012. He also coached in the Cape Cod and Northwoods summer leagues.
REPORT: VARITEK INTERVIEWED
Former Boston catcher Jason Varitek is the latest name linked to the Mariners’ managerial opening.
Varitek, 43, recently interviewed for the position, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Varitek is currently working for the Red Sox as a special assistant to the general manager.
Dipoto is believed to be working from a group of five finalists in a search to replace Lloyd McClendon, who was fired Oct. 9 with one year remaining on his contract.
The candidates, in addition to Varitek, are believed to include Angels special assistant Tim Bogar, Triple-A Reno manager Phil Nevin and Tampa Bay third-base coach Charlie Montoyo.
Bogar is generally viewed as the favorite.
Varitek began his professional career as the Mariners’ first-round pick in 1994, but he had yet to reach the majors when traded on July 31, 1997 to Boston with pitcher Derek Lowe for reliever Heathcliff Slocum.
The Red Sox promoted Varitek to the majors in September 1997, and he spent 15 years with the club before retiring in 2011. He was an All-Star on three occasions and won a Gold Glove in 2005 for defensive excellence.