The coaching staff Mariners manager John McLaren inherited from Mike Hargrove last July lacked experience. But McLaren's new staff is loaded with Major League service time. To the surprise of no one who has been following the two-week selection process, the Mariners made it official on Monday afternoon, when they announced that four of the five coaching vacancies have been filled.
Mel Stottlemyre takes over as pitching coach, former Major League manager Jim Riggleman becomes the bench coach, Norm Charlton is the new bullpen coach, and Eddie Rodriguez becomes the first-base coach. The third-base coaching position has been offered to Larry Bowa, who needs some time to take care of some "personal business" before making his decision. Hitting coach Jeff Pentland returns for a third season and is the only holdover from this past season. "These guys are all winners, and I have known them for a long time, some longer than others," McLaren said during a conference call from Safeco Field. "I couldn't be more excited. I think we have one of the best coaching staffs in all of baseball." McLaren, who became the Mariners manager on July 1 when Hargrove unexpectedly resigned, said he passed up "some good names and close friends of mine," but assembled what he considers a staff that best enables the Mariners to compete for a playoff spot next season. The 54-year-old Riggleman has managerial experience with the Cubs (1995-99) and Padres (1993-94) and coached for the Cardinals (1989-90), Indians (2000) and Dodgers (2001-04), forming a solid relationship with Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre. "We have known each other since the '80s, when we came up as coaches, and we have kept in contact over the years," McLaren said. "He is someone I have respected for a long time. He was thrilled when I called him and is excited about coming here." Riggleman spent the past three seasons as the Cardinals' Minor League field manager. Stottlemyre, who will be 66 on Nov. 13, has 22 years of Major League coaching experience, including 10 seasons (1996-2005) with the Yankees and a decade with the Mets (1984-93). "He's one of the best in the game," McLaren said. "He was a winner as a player and a coach, and when I was with Tampa Bay, Don Zimmer used to talk about him all the time. One of Mel's philosophies is to use his pitcher's strength rather than the hitter's weakness." As a big-league pitcher, the Yakima, Wash., native -- and currently a resident of Sammamish, a Seattle suburb -- was a three-time 20-game winner for the Yankees in the 1960s. Charlton, 44, has been a coach in the Mariners' Minor League system for the past five years. He is best known for being one of the "Nasty Boys" that helped the Reds capture the World Series championship for the Reds in 1990 and is well-known in the Northwest as the left-handed closer that played such an important role in the Mariners' remarkable "September to Remember" in 1995, when they overcame the Angels and won the AL West title in a one-game playoff. "I've know Norm since I lived in Houston and saw him pitch at Rice," McLaren said. "I followed his career and coached him in Cincinnati in 1992 with Lou [Piniella]. Norm is someone that I have total respect for, a closer personal friend. "He's a great addition to this staff. He's been there, done that in the bullpen, and will teach our young pitchers in the bullpen the right and wrong way to do things." The 48-year-old Rodriguez begins his second season in the Mariners' organization. He managed the Double-A West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx this past season and has previous coaching experience with the Blue Jays (1998-99), Diamondbacks (2001) and Nationals (2004-06). "I've known Eddie for a few years and had lunch with him a couple of times during the [World Baseball Classic]," McLaren said. "He was a coach on the USA team that won the Gold Medal in the Olympics, and he showed me some of his workouts. He's bilingual, and I've always thought of him as someone who is very versatile, a guy that can coach first, third or the bench." The coaches eventually will be assigned other specific duties, including the infield and outfield coaching assignments. "We'll let the smoke clear and see what happens with [Bowa] before making those decisions," McLaren said. "There isn't a set time frame, and by the end of the week we'll see where we need to go. But I'm confident that he'll be able to work things out."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.