PEORIA, Ariz. -- Seattle Mariners third base coach John Stearns, who has been sidelined since undergoing surgery for a hiatal hernia, has informed the club that he is stepping down from his current position and would like to be re-assigned within the organization, Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik announced today.
"I am not physically able to perform the role of third base coach yet, and it appears that I will not be able to perform the job until the middle of April," Stearns said. "It is not fair to the organization, to Lloyd or to the players for me to expect to jump back in after not being able to participate in the bulk of spring training. Instead, I have asked Jack to re-assign me within the organization, and he has agreed to do so."
"I think this decision is in the best interest of the Mariners. I don't want to be a distraction, and I don't want the players to have to deal with a change-up just as their season is starting."
"John is an accomplished baseball man with a multitude of talents. He will work closely with me, and Tom Allison, in our pro scouting department and continue to provide great value to our organization," Zduriencik said. "I have a great deal of respect for John, and that respect only deepened when he came to me and made this request."
After arriving in Arizona for Spring Training, Stearns suffered discomfort in his upper abdomen. A follow-up exam resulted in the diagnoses of a hiatal hernia.
Stearns underwent surgery February 24 at Arrowhead Hospital. The laparoscopic surgical repair was performed by Dr. Jamison Foster. Stearns has been out of camp since the surgery.
Rich Donnelly, a veteran of 27 seasons as a Major League coach including 14 years as a third base coach, will be promoted to the Major League staff to coach third base. Donnelly coached third base for Pittsburgh (1993-95), Florida (1997-98), Colorado (1999-2002), Milwaukee (2003-2005) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2006 and 2007).
Donnelly was hired this year by Seattle to manage their AAA club in the Pacific Coast League, the Tacoma Rainiers.
A decision on the new manager in Tacoma has not yet been made.