New Skipper For Rainiers

The Seattle Mariners announced their minor league coaching staffs today, including a new one for the Tacoma Rainiers.

Rich Donnelly will be the 29th manager in Tacoma baseball history, replacing John Stearns who became the Mariners third base coach. Donnelly will be joined by pitching coach Jaime Navarro and new hitting coach Cory Snyder.

Rich Donnelly is the definition of a baseball man. He’s 67 years old, and has been working in the game since he was signed as a minor league catcher by the Minnesota Twins in 1967. He managed in the minors in the 1970s before embarking on a long career – we’re talking decades here – as a major league coach. Much of that time was spent as Jim Leyland‘s third base coach, a role he held with three different teams (the Pirates, Marlins, and Rockies).

The past three seasons, Donnelly has managed the New York Mets short-season Class-A team in the New York-Penn League, the Brooklyn Cyclones. However, he has plenty of Triple-A managing experience – but it was quite some time ago: Donnelly managed the Sacramento Solons in 1976, and the Tucson Toros for three years from 1977 to 1979. So, he’s been to Cheney Stadium before – but I’m guessing it’s been decades since he set foot in our ballpark.

Donnelly is from Steubenville, Ohio and attended Xavier University. I look forward to meeting Rich in spring training. I’ve been told by media members who have dealt with him in the major leagues that he is – in the parlance of the business – a great quote.

One other thing about Donnelly: apparently he is some sort of world-class racquetball player – check out the links down below.

Jaime Navarro you probably already know. The longtime major league pitcher served as the Rainiers pitching coach in 2010, when Tacoma won the PCL title. Navarro received a lot of credit that season for the progress that Michael Pineda made under his watch. Navarro has spent the last three years as the Mariners bullpen coach. We welcome Jaime back to Tacoma – he is part of the Tacoma family in a literal sense: his father Julio pitched for the Tacoma Giants from 1960 to 1962.

Former major league slugger Cory Snyder gets the promotion to Triple-A and will serve as the Rainiers hitting coach. He held the same role for the Mariners Double-A Jackson affiliate the last three years – that will be an advantage, as he’ll be accustomed to working with hitters that move up in the organization.

Snyder hit 149 major league home runs for five different teams, with a career-high of 33 for the Cleveland Indians in 1987. His best overall season was 1988, when he hit .272 with 26 homers and 75 RBI.

Snyder played in just eight PCL games, at the end of his career in 1995 with Las Vegas. Thus, it seems unlikely that he has been to Cheney Stadium before.

Snyder was a three-time All-American at Brigham Young University and he played for Team USA as a collegian – anyone else remember this card?

Rounding things out on the medical side, we have returning trainers Tom Newberg and B.J. Downie, along with a new performance coach in Gabe Bourland.

That’s our crew for 2014. Hopefully they will lead this team to a boatload of victories!

I have received many messages this off-season inquiring about the fate of former Rainiers manager Daren Brown.

Brown started the last seven years as Tacoma’s manager and is the winningest skipper in franchise history (by far). Two of the last four years he was promoted mid-season to serve as Mariners manager (2010) and third base coach (2013).

When he was asked to fill-in in Seattle last May, Brown was promised a job for 2014. Jack Z made good on that promise, creating a new position called “Bunting and Baserunning Coordinator.” Brown will travel through the Mariners minor league system, teaching the finer points of bunting and baserunning.

Hopefully Brown will come see us in Tacoma, but he lives in Amarillo, Texas – and that is close to Rainiers road stops in El Paso and Albuquerque.

Daren is a good friend, and his new job enabled me to send one of my better gag gifts to the former pitcher: this well-worn 1970s instructional book I found on Amazon:

buntingandbaserunning

Links:

  • We’ll start with the link to the Rainiers media release on the new coaching staff.
  • Here is a story on the Rich Donnelly‘s prowess on the racquetball court. The story is from last August and it has a strange error early on, saying he first picked up a racquet while managing the Tacoma Rainiers – that’s not true at all, but… foreshadowing? I suspect the writer got Tacoma confused with Tucson.
  • Donnelly’s minor league managerial record, along with a brief write-up, can be found here.
  • Wanna see something amazing? Check out Cory Snyder‘s college stats at BYU.
  • Ryan Divish posted the entire Mariners minor league coaching staffs, including the roving instructors. Some ex-Rainiers were promoted: Jim Horner will manage Double-A Jackson, Eddie Menchaca (manager) and Andrew Lorraine (pitching coach) move up to High Desert, and Mike Kinkade will be hitting coach in Clinton.
  • Jeff Sullivan writes that Mike Zunino and John Buck serve as bookends on a timeline.
  • If you haven’t seen the video of the Australian League player going all Rodney McCray on the right field fence, you better check it out now.

OK, we have a coaching staff. Time to really start looking forward to the 2014 season.

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One Response to New Skipper For Rainiers

  1. Mark says:

    Wonder if the Rainiers roster will be consisted of mostly veterans? A veteran manager to coach veterans to get ready for the M’s.

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