Mariners Insider

Archives: Oct. 2009

Oct.
20th

Johjima’s farewell – not so fast, Yanks

After issuing a brief statement Monday saying he’d never forget the Seattle Mariners, the fans or the friends he’d made here, Kenji Johjima told the team he’d be holding a conference call with the media soon.

Turns out, however, he didn’t mean with the American media.

Joh, who was never comfortable enough with the Northwest press to open up about himself, apparently still isn’t. Willing to talk to the Japanese media about his reasons for walking away from the final two years of his contract, he didn’t even want to talk to the press here long distance.

It’s certainly no

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Oct.
19th

Kenji Johjima opts out of final two years

One of the thorniest issues the Seattle Mariners faced – what to do with catcher Kenji Johjima – has been resolved: The 33-year-old catcher has decided to return to Japan with two years left on his contract.

“After lots of very deep thought and deliberation, I have decided to return home to resume my career in Japan,” Johjima. “I have had a wonderful experience competing at the Major League level. The last four years have been extraordinary, with great teammates and great coaches.

“I will always be indebted to the Mariners organization for giving me the opportunity to follow

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Oct.
19th

Mariners dismiss third base coach Bruce Hines

Five of their six coaches have been given contract extensions for 2010, but the Seattle Mariners have the sixth – third base coach Bruce Hines – that he won’t return next season.

Hines, 51, was told last week that he wasn’t being retained, though neither general manager Jack Zduriencik nor manager Don Wakamatsu has yet discussed the firing – or the reasoning behind it.

The team will announce today the extensions of bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, pitching coach Rick Adair, batting coach Alan Cockrell, first base/outfield coach Lee Tinsley and bullpen coach John Wetteland.

Hines, who worked with Mariners

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Oct.
18th

A good job for a great guy

One of the more popular and successful Seattle pitching coaches, Bryan Price has been hired to perform the same duties for the Cincinnati Reds.

Price, 47, will join ex-Mariner Arthur Rhodes – and former GM Bill Bavasi – in Cincinnati, working with manager Dusty Baker.

Price left the Mariners after the 2006 season on his own terms, then joined manager Bob Melvin in Arizona as pitching coach of the Diamondbacks.

When Melvin was fired last May, Price resigned the next day and was immediately hired by the Phillies to help their minor league pitchers.

For a more detailed story on

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Oct.
15th

20 Years Ago: A quake, a World Series & a cat

When the 7.1 earthquake interupted the World Series 20 years ago this week, I was in a San Francisco press box – seated behind a massive window that should have shattered but didn’t.

Phil Rogers, a Chicago national baseball writer who’d never been through a quake before, gave a short scream and ran across the press box tables until he reached an open door.

What followed were 10 days of news stories from around the Bay Area, where the Giants and Athletics were suddenly forgotten. Memories of that week arise now because veteran writer Jim Street, now with MLB.com,

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Oct.
13th

Rob Johnson facing 1-2-3 .. no, 4 surgeries

Rob Johnson is tough in the way all major league catchers are tough – which is to say no other position comes close to hurting its players as often.

Johnson, 27, is now paying the price for catching 80 games with Seattle in his first full season, and that price might be four off-season surgeries.

Both hips, a wrist and and elbow? And all for a guy who caught Felix Hernandez the final weekend?

Johnson should be ready for spring training, but with four possible operations, who knows? It won’t be a comfortable winter for him, that’s certain.

The story

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Oct.
12th

Bob Melvin’s name surfaces in Houston

Former Mariners manager Bob Melvin, who went from the National League’s manager of the year in Arizona to being fired last season, is being interviewed for the vacant job in Houston.

The Astros have lots of candidates – a half dozen former managers have applied – but Melvin’s credentials are as good as any mentioned thus far.

Melvin succeeded Lou Piniella in 2003 and led the Mariners to a 93-win season that was good for a second-place finish. A year later, the team won only 63 games, and Melvin was replaced.

In five seasons with Arizona, he got to the

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Oct.
12th

Cha Seung Baek, 11 years in, is unemployed

It’s not hard to remember Cha Seung Baek as the 18-year-old Korean right-hander the Seattle Mariners signed in 1998.

He was shy but had a big smile. He could throw 92 mph and had off-speed stuff. English was a work in progress, but his future was as bright as his mechanics were smooth.

Fast-forward six years, when Baek made his first big-league appearances – the smile and the mechanics were still there. So was the shyness and Baek’s unfailing politeness.

Baek always had above-average velocity but pitched backward: He’d try to get ahead with breaking balls and changeups and, when

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