Stearns, HoJo Promoted To Seattle

The Mariners set their major league coaching staff today, and one thing is clear: Jack Zduriencik wanted his minor league instructors on the big league bench.

That meant good news for Tacoma manager John Stearns and hitting coach Howard Johnson, who each got promoted to the major leagues. Stearns will be the Mariners third base coach, and HoJo will be the hitting coach. We’re happy for both of them and hope they have a great season – HoJo texted me today and said he’s very excited about it.

The new Mariners pitching coach will be Rick Waits. He was the Mariners minor league pitching coordinator for the last three seasons, during which he was a frequent guest on our radio pregame show. Fun bit of trivia: Waits was the starting pitcher in the PCL All-Star Game the last time it was played at Cheney Stadium – in 1974.

Former Rainiers shortstop Chris Woodward made the big league staff as infield coach. Andy Van Slyke is the first base coach, and Mike Rojas is the bullpen coach. Rojas is the son of major leaguer Cookie Rojas, and the brother of Angels TV announcer (and friend of the blog) Victor Rojas.

These moves wipe out two-thirds of the Rainiers coaching staff. The only possible returning member now is pitching coach Terry Clark. Daren Brown could come back, I suppose – Jack Z told reporters today that Brown “will have a job in the organization if he doesn’t get a big league coaching job.” Geoff Baker reported (first link below) that Brown interviewed for the Reds third base coach last week.

Former Rainiers pitching coach Dwight Bernard is out of the picture. The Mariners let the seven-year Tacoma vet go right after the season, and as soon as he hung up the phone it rang again and he was hired by the Giants.

So we’ll see who we get in Tacoma. I had heard some rumblings that we may have an all-new staff, and that appears more likely today.


  • The Mariners fired pitching coach Carl Willis – and in a strange turn of events, it appears that Willis had to call the Mariners to find out if he still worked there.
  • Geoff Baker has a quick blog post n the Mariners new coaching staff – I thought we were going to see our first Ryan Divish byline at the Seattle Times, but no!
  • Grant Brisbee wrote a piece on how the Mariners are the sleeping giant of the off-season. The very next day, Buster Olney wrote the exact same article (but without the insults).
  • Former Rainiers interim manager Jose Castro – who piloted Tacoma to the 2010 PCL title – was named “quality assurance coach” for the Chicago Cubs. I’m not sure what that means, but it is listed as a major league staff position.
  • Former Rainiers and Mariners outfielder Casper Wells signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs.
  • ESPN football expert John Clayton once called three Rainiers games with me, which gives me a great excuse to link to this terrific article on how he got to where he is.

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