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Notes: Coaching staff decisions loom

Notes: Coaching staff decisions loom

SEATTLE -- Now that manager John McLaren knows he's returning next season, the next order of business is how many of his current coaches will be back.

McLaren said on Saturday that he and general manager Bill Bavasi have had some recent discussions on the makeup of the coaching staff going forward, and it's important to make decisions soon.

"I have been in their shoes many times and it's uncomfortable for everybody," McLaren said. "We'd like to let them know their situations as soon as possible. That's only fair."

He said there would be more discussions "and make decisions as soon as possible. We have to let these guys know."

It would seem that hitting coach Jeff Pentland can return for a third season if he wants. The Mariners offense was one the bright spots, challenging the franchise's single-season batting average record.

And for the first time in club history, nine players had at least 50 RBIs, with a shot of three of them -- Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre and Jose Guillen -- reaching the 100-RBI level.

The remainder of the coaching staff McLaren inherited: Mike Goff, who moved from first-base coach to bench coach when Mike Hargrove resigned on July 1; third-base coach Carlos Garcia; pitching coach Rafael Chaves; and bullpen coach Jim Slaton. First-base coach Gary Thurman joined the staff soon after Hargrove's departure.

Decisions could be made as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Golden opportunity: On several occasions this season, McLaren has said Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in the American League and should win a Gold Glove.

"He's the best I've ever seen," McLaren said.

Whether other American League managers and coaches agree with McLaren will be determined in November when the Gold Glove winners at every position in each league are announced by the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company.

"It would be an honor and a privilege to win a Gold Glove," said Beltre prior to Saturday night's game against the Rangers, "but it's not something I would lose any sleep over if I didn't. I don't even think about things like that.

"I care about my defense, but not the awards that come from it."

Beltre said he actually believes he played better overall defense in both 2004 and '05 -- he didn't win a Gold Glove either season -- than he did this season.

He measures his success by the number of unearned runs his errors create.

"I remember the bad plays a lot more than the good ones," he said.

Beltre has made a highlight reel full of great plays this season, but he best remembers the two throwing errors he made against the Rangers on Aug. 25 in Arlington. They opened the door to a game-tying, three-run rally and Texas eventually won the game, 5-3, and started Seattle's nine-game losing streak.

"That one still hurts," he said.

Trivia challenge: If Beltre wins a Gold Glove, he would become the first third baseman in club history to be honored with the ultimate award for defense. Which infield position has produced the most Mariners Gold Gloves?

Whoa, Yuni: When rookie catcher Jeff Clement hit a two-run walk-off home run in the ninth inning on Friday night, he had some unexpected company rounding the bases.

As Clement rounded first base and headed towards second base, Yuniesky Betancourt bolted from the first-base dugout and raced to second base to congratulate his teammate, who reached second base and kept right on going. And Betancourt followed him.

"I saw him running behind Clement," Garcia said, "and I was wondering, 'What is he doing?'"

Betancourt thought the ball bounced over the fence in center field for a ground-rule double, scoring Beltre from second base. So he dashed onto the field to help Clement celebrate, while everyone in the home-team dugout went to home plate to greet Clement.

"Never in a million years did I expect to see [Betancourt] running behind Clement," Garcia said.

A replay was shown inside the clubhouse after the game, giving the players another opportunity to break up in laughter.

"That's one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life," closer J.J. Putz said. "It looked like Hank Aaron breaking the home run record."

Congrats, Lou: McLaren, who rejected an offer to be on manager Lou Piniella's coaching staff with the Cubs this season to become the Mariners bench coach, called his former colleague Saturday morning to offer his congratulations for winning the National League Central.

"He was very happy and I am very happy for them," McLaren said. "To me, he was a Hall of Fame manager before this, and this is just another indicator that he is. This is the third team he has taken to the playoffs [Reds, Mariners and Cubs]. I think this definitely opens the door for him."

McLaren said he didn't remind Lou that the Mariners actually have a better record than the Cubs.

"I was thinking, but didn't want to spoil it," McLaren said. "He was having such a good time."

The answer is: Mariners second basemen have won a total of six Gold Gloves. They are Harold Reynolds (1988, '89, '90) and Bret Boone (2002, '03, '04). Only one shortstop, Omar Vizquel (1993) and one first baseman, John Olerud (2000, '01, '02 and '03) have struck gold with their gloves.

On deck: The Mariners end the season the way they started it, with right-hander Felix Hernandez on the mound. Hernandez (13-7, 4.06 ERA), who already has set a career high in wins, will be opposed by Rangers rookie A.J. Murray (1-1, 4.50 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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