Mariners Insider

First half came together, one player at a time

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on July 12, 2009 at 4:49 pm with No Comments »
July 12, 2009 4:49 pm

When Don Wakamatsu insisted in spring training that he and his staff would be satisfied – no matter what the Seattle Mariners record – with a season in which they helped players improved, he was viewed as something of a naive maniac.

Today, it makes a lot more sense.

What the Mariners coaching staff has been able to do with players like Russell Branyan, Franklin Gutierrez, David Aardsma, Sean White and Jarrod Washburn is little short of spectacular.

Branyan kicked around baseball for 13 years, and this season has broken out with 22 home runs before the All-Star break.

Gutierrez was benched in Cleveland last season, but this year is batting .292 and playing great defense in center field.

Aardsma was the perennial project, a hard-throwing reliver who made stops with the Giants, Cubs, White Sox and Red Sox before turning 26. Today, he’s a closer wih a 1.96 earned run average and 20 saves in 22 chances.

White was a former prospect taken off the 40-man roster last year, and now he’s a setup man with a 2.63 ERA in 34 appearances.

Washburn? A lefty who never quite worked out in Seattle, he embraced new pitches this spring and, while he’s just 6-6, has a 2.96 ERA and has pitched more innings, more quality starts, than anyone on the team not named Felix.

Wakamatsu and his staff come from instruction end of the game, and they’ve been teachers since the first day of camp.

They’ve taught baseball, yes, and they’ve taught attitude. What they’ve done has pushed the franchise further in three months than it had any right to expect.

They rarely get recognition, so let’s give ‘em a little here. These men have helped journeyman and rookies, veterans and rejects, turn a 101-loss team into an exiting group that actually believes it can win.

Bench coach – Ty Van Burkleo

Hitting coach – Alan Cockrell

Pitching coach – Rick Adair

Bullpen coach – John Wetteland

Third base coach – Bruce Hines

First base coach – Lee Tinsley

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