Mariners retain entire coaching staff for 2012

Mariners retain entire coaching staff for 2012

Mariners retain entire coaching staff for 2012
SEATTLE -- When Eric Wedge took over as manager of the Mariners last year, one of his first stated goals was to stop the revolving door on the club's coaching staff. Turns out, that mission was accomplished as Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik announced Wednesday that the entire coaching staff will return intact next season.

That means Robby Thompson returns as bench coach and infield coordinator, Carl Willis is back as pitching coach, Chris Chambliss as hitting coach, Mike Brumley at first base, Jeff Datz at third base, Jaime Navarro in the bullpen and Jason Phillips as the bullpen catcher.

"Having the staff return next season is another positive step as we continue to build our Major League team, and organization, to where we want it," Zduriencik said in a statement released by the team. "It is a group of hard-working professionals."

Wedge noted that continuity is critical for a staff working to establish a new tone with so many young players.

"I feel we made progress this season," Wedge said, "and this group was a big part of it. They work hard, they understand the game, and they are willing and able to teach, while being unwilling to accept less than full effort. We did a good job creating a mindset here last season, and we are looking forward to improvement in 2012."

This will be the first offseason with no coaching changes for the Mariners since 2002, which was Lou Piniella's last year as manager.

Continuity in the hitting coach position has been particularly rare for the Mariners over the past decade, as Gerald Perry (2000-02), Lamar Johnson (2003), Paul Molitor (2004), Don Baylor (2005), Jeff Pentland (2006-08), Lee Elia (2008), Alan Cockrell (2009-10) and Alonzo Powell (2010) all filled that job prior to Chambliss' arrival last season.

Chambliss, 62, will now be in his second season as the Mariners' hitting coach and 15th in the Major Leagues at that position. He previously was a member of four World Series champion teams with the Yankees.

Willis, 50, returns for his third season as the Mariners' pitching coach, overseeing a staff that finished sixth in the American League with a 3.90 ERA despite employing nine rookies over the course of the year.

Brumley and Phillips are the two other holdovers from previous regimes. Brumley, 47, returns for his third season. He was first-base coach while also working with the outfielders and baserunners last year after splitting the 2010 season as first-base and third-base coach.

Phillips, 35, enters his fourth season as the team's bullpen catcher.

Thompson, 49, returns as bench coach and also oversees infield instruction. Prior to joining Seattle, he spent eight seasons (2003-10) as special assistant to baseball operations with the Indians during Wedge's time there.

Datz, 51, also came to Seattle with Wedge last year after spending eight years on his staff in Cleveland. He works with the Mariners' catchers, as well as coaches third base and is responsible for running Spring Training for the team.

Navarro, 44, will also be in his second season on the Mariners' Major League coaching staff in 2012. He spent the previous three years as a pitching coach in Seattle's farm system.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.