Welcome New Rainiers Manager Roy Howell

The Seattle Mariners decided on Roy Howell to manage the Tacoma Rainiers this season.

In case you are just tuning in, original manager Rich Donnelly was promoted to major league third base coach after John Stearns had to step down due to hernia surgery.

Howell was brought into the organization as a hitting coach, spending the last two seasons with Advanced-A High Desert. He was supposed to do the same job at Double-A Jackson this year, but he ended up getting a rather nice promotion in the shuffle.

Howell played in the major leagues from 1974 to 1984, with the Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, and Texas Rangers. He played on the 1982 Brewers World Series team along with former Rainiers pitching coaches Jim Slaton and Dwight Bernard. He was an all-star in 1978, and to this day he holds the Blue Jays record for most RBI in one game (nine, September 10, 1977 at the Yankees).

Howell has limited managing experience – three years for short-season Eugene, although he did manage in the independent Atlantic League in 2011 and that league has a few Triple-A calibre players in it. He also has PCL experience from his days as the Portland Beavers hitting coach from 2000 to 2002.

Howell played in the PCL at the end of his career, in 1985 with the Portland Beavers.

I’ll get a chance to talk to Howell when I go to spring training later this month. Furthermore, I assume we’ll have some newspaper stories to link to on Howell for Friday’s blog update.

The Mariners made their second round of spring training moves yesterday, and quite a few players were optioned to Tacoma.

Optioned to AAA TACOMA (5):

Left-handed Pitcher (1):    Bobby LaFromboise

Right-handed Pitcher (1):  Logan Bawcom

Catcher (1):                      Jesus Sucre

Infielder (2):                      Ji-Man Choi, Carlos Triunfel

Re-Assigned to Minor League Camp (6):

Right-handed Pitcher (2):  Logan Kensing, Matt Palmer

Left-handed Pitcher (1):    Nick Hill

Catcher (1):                      Mike Dowd

Infielder (2):                      Ty Kelly, Nate Tenbrink

A couple of things strike me here: first off, Bawcom and LaFromboise did not get very long looks to make the Mariners bullpen. Perhaps their relief crew is a bit stronger than expected.

The other interesting thing is the wording that Ji-Man Choi was optioned to Tacoma. When I covered the Tacoma first basemen a few weeks ago, I wrote that he could end up starting the season in Double-A because Tacoma is expected to have Jesus Montero and Rich Poythress as the 1B/DH. That could still happen – the “to Tacoma” part of “optioned to Tacoma” is not binding – but for now it looks like Choi will be on his way to Cheney Stadium on April 3.

All of the players “assigned to minor league camp” have a Triple-A profile except for catcher Mike Dowd. He’ll probably go to Jackson.

Links:

That’s it for me today – I’m off to the MGM Arena for the late games on the opening day of the Pac-12 Tournament. Related: I bet I’m the only person in a Las Vegas hotel room who spent his morning googling Roy Howell.

We’ll be back with a full blog post on Friday, and remember that the Rainiers open house is Saturday so plan accordingly!

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