Mariners announce coaching staff, including Chris Chambliss as hitting coach

  • Thu Nov 4th, 2010 3:17pm
  • Sports

By Kirby Arnold

Within the past few minutes, the Mariners have announced their coaching staff under manager Eric Wedge.

To no surprise, Carl Willis returns as pitching coach. Also returning is first base coach Mike Brumley and bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.

Among the newcomers is former Yankee slugger Chris Chambliss as hitting coach, former Giants infielder Robby Thompson as bench coach, former Orioles bench coach Jeff Datz as third-base coach, former Tacoma Rainiers pitching coach Jaime Navarro as bullpen coach.

Here’s the release from the Mariners:

“We feel we have added quality coaches with a track record of success as players and coaches at the Major League level,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “Eric and I had a lot of great dialogue during the process of putting this staff together. There is a good blend of experience and talent joining our Major League coaching staff.”

Thompson, 48, joins the Mariners as bench coach and will also oversee infield instruction. He spent the last eight seasons (since 2003) as Special Assistant to Baseball Operations with the Cleveland Indians. He was the Indians Bench and Infield Coach in 2002, and also served in the same capacity for the second half of the 2005 season. Prior to joining the Indians organization, Thompson was part of the San Francisco Giants Major League coaching staff in 2000 and 2001.

Thompson was a two-time All-Star (1988, 1993) during his 11-year Major League playing career for the San Francisco Giants from 1986-96. Thompson was the Giants Opening Day second baseman for 11 consecutive seasons. His best season came in 1993, collecting career-highs in batting average (.312), home runs (19), RBI (65), winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and was named to The Sporting News NL All-Star team.

Willis, 49, spent the last two months of the 2010 season as the Mariners pitching coach. He 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. During his tenure, the Indians staff consistently ranked among the best in the American League, including ranking in the top-6 in starters ERA in six seasons. He was pitching coach for CC Sabathia (2007) and Cliff Lee (2008) during their back-to-back Cy Young Award seasons.

Willis pitched the Majors during parts of 12 seasons with Detroit (1983-84), Cincinnati (1984-87), Chicago (AL, 1988-91) and Minnesota (1992-95). He was a member of two World Series winners, with the Tigers in 1984 and the Twins in 1991.

Chambliss, 61, has managed the last two seasons at AAA Charlotte in the Chicago White Sox organization. The 2011 season will be his 42nd in professional baseball. Chambliss has 13 years of experience as a Major League hitting coach with 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. Chambliss also owns a 506-490 (.508) career record in 6 seasons as a minor league manager.

Chambliss played 17 seasons in the Major Leagues with Indians (1971-74), Yankees (1974-79, 1988) and Braves (1980-86). He combined to hit .279 (2109×7571) with 185 home runs during his playing career. He was named the 1971 AL Rookie of the Year and played in the 1975 All-Star Game. He participated in four League Championship Series and three World Series, winning consecutive titles with the Yankees in 1977-78.

Brumley, 47, returns for his second season on the Mariners coaching staff after splitting the 2010 season as first base and third base coach. In 2011, he will oversee base running and outfield instruction, in addition to coaching first base. He spent the 2009 season as the Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League Field Coordinator, overseeing all aspects of instruction in the Dodgers minor league system. He was Assistant Field Coordinator and managed Ogden (Pioneer League) in 2008. Prior to joining the Dodgers, the former big league utility infielder/outfielder served as the Texas Rangers Field Coordinator from 2005-07. He was a minor league manager in the Angels organization from 2001-04, including spending his last three seasons as manager at Salt Lake (AAA).

Brumley played parts of eight seasons in the Majors, including spending the 1990 season with Seattle. He also appeared in the big leagues with the Cubs (1987), Tigers (1988), Red Sox (1991-92), Astros (1993, 1995) and A’s (1994). He appeared in 295 career games.

Datz, 50, joins the Mariners after serving 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). Datz spent time as the Indians Minor League Field Coordinator (2000-01) and managed six seasons in the minor leagues, where he compiled a 403-383 (.513) record.

Datz played professionally from 1982-1990 in the Astros (1982-88), Tigers (1989) and Yankees (1990) organizations. The former catcher reached the Majors with the Tigers in 1989, appearing in 7 games.

Navarro, 43, joins the Major League coaching staff after spending the last three seasons as a pitching coach in the Mariners farm system. He was the pitching coach of the 2010 Pacific Coast League champion Tacoma Rainiers last season, tutoring several pitchers that contributed at the Major League level. He has been instrumental in working with many of the current pitchers on the Major League staff. He served as pitching coach at the Single-A level in High Desert in 2009 and Wisconsin in 2008.

Navarro played professional baseball from 1987-2003, appearing in the Major Leagues with Milwaukee (1989-94, 2000), Chicago-NL (1995-96), Chicago-AL (1997-99) and Cleveland (2000). He compiled a 116-126 record with a 4.72 ERA in 361 games (309 starts) during his 12-year Major League career. Navarro won a career-high 17 games in 1992, one of five times he won 15 or more in a season. He also played professionally in Italy from 2004-06.

Phillips, 34, enters his third 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).