They’re all coming back for 2012 … the coaches, that is.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge announced today the team’s coaching staff will be unchanged for next season.
Returning are bench coach Robby Thompson; pitching coach Carl Willis; hitting coach Chris Chambliss; first base coach Mike Brumley; third base coach Jeff Datz; bullpen coach Jaime Navarro and bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.
“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.”
“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.”
Thompson, 49, returns as bench coach and also oversees infield instruction. Prior to joining the Mariners, he spent eight seasons (2003-10) as Special Assistant to Baseball Operations with the Cleveland Indians. Prior to joining the Indians organization, Thompson was part of the San Francisco Giants coaching staff in 2000 and 2001.
Willis, 50, will be in his third season as the Mariners big league pitching coach in 2012. The Mariners finished sixth in the American League in ERA with a 3.90 mark, despite using nine rookies. Rookie pitchers totaled 60 starts this season. Willis spent the last two months of the 2010 season, and all of 2011, as the Mariners pitching coach. Willis joined the organization prior to the 2010 season as the Minor League Pitching Coordinator. He spent the previous seven seasons (2003-2009) as the Cleveland Indians Major League pitching coach.
Chambliss, 62, will be in his second season as the Mariners hitting coach. In 2011 he worked with 26 different hitters at the big league level, including eight rookies. The 2012 season will be his 15th season overall as a big league hitting coach, his 43rd in professional baseball. Chambliss’s 14 years of experience as a Major League hitting coach include the Yankees (1988, 1996-2000), Cardinals (1993-95), Mets (2002) and Reds (2004-06). He was a member of four World Series champion teams with the Yankees and was a coach on the American League All-Star team in 1999.
Brumley, 47, returns for his third season on the Mariners coaching staff in 2012. He was first base coach (and worked with the outfielders and baserunning) in 2011, after splitting the 2010 season as first base and third base coach.
Datz, 51, will be in his second season with the Mariners. He also is responsible for running spring training for the team. Datz served as bench coach for the Orioles in 2010. Previously, Datz spent eight seasons on the Indians Major League coaching staff in several different capacities. He was the bench coach for Eric Wedge from 2007-09, and was also spent time as the Indians third base coach (2006) and first base coach (2003-05).
Navarro, 44, will also be in his second season on the Mariners Major League coaching staff in 2012. In 2011, the Mariners bullpen had the third-lowest ERA (3.56) in the AL, and allowed the fewest home runs (32). Navarro spent the previous three seasons (2008-10) as a pitching coach in the Mariners farm system. He was the pitching coach of the 2010 Pacific Coast League champion Tacoma Rainiers, tutoring several pitchers that contributed at the Major League level in 2011. He has been instrumental in working with many of the current pitchers on the Major League staff.
Phillips, 35, enters his fourth season as the Mariners bullpen catcher. He played parts of seven seasons in the Majors Leagues with the Mets (2001-04), Dodgers (2005) and Blue Jays (2006-07).