By John Boyle
New Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has completed his coaching staff, the team announced Monday.
The coaching staff additions are: Howard Johnson (hitting), Mike Rojas (bullpen), John Stearns (3B), Andy Van Slyke (1B), Rick Waits (pitching), Chris Woodward (infield).
Already the Mariners had announced the hiring of Trent Jewett as the team’s bench coach, with bullpen coach Jason Phillips and left-handed batting practice pitcher Scott Budner returning from last season’s staff.
Here are bios on each coach from the team’s press release:
Johnson, who turns 53 on Nov. 29, spent last season as the AAA Tacoma Rainiers hitting coach. He spent the month of September with the Major League club, assisting with hitting instruction. Prior to joining the Mariners organization, Johnson spent 11 seasons in a variety of capacities with the New York Mets. His stint in the Mets organization included spending three full seasons (2008-2010) as the big league hitting coach after being named to that position on July 12, 2007. (He started the 2007 season as the Mets first base coach). Over a 14-year Major League career, Johnson batted .249 with 247 doubles, 22 triples, 228 home runs, 760 RBI and 231 stolen bases in 1,531 games with the Tigers, Mets, Rockies and Cubs. He won World Series titles with the Tigers (1984) and Mets (1986) and was an NL All-Star in 1989 and 1991. In 1991 he won the NL home run (38) and RBI (117) titles.
Rojas, 50, spent the past two-and-a-half seasons as the Detroit Tigers bullpen coach after being named to that position on July 3, 2011. Prior to joining the Tigers Major League coaching staff, Rojas was the Tigers Director of Player Development from Aug. 6, 2010-July 2, 2011. He spent three years as the Tigers minor league field coordinator (2008-2010) prior to being promoted. Rojas began his professional coaching career in 1995 and served as a minor league coach and manager. He also worked as an assistant coach at St. Thomas University in Miami for five seasons (1987-91). Mike is the son of former Major League player, coach and manager Cookie Rojas.
Stearns, 62, entered the 2013 season as Seattle’s minor league catching coordinator, and finished the year as the manager at AAA Tacoma. It was his 39th season in professional baseball, and he has served as a scout, manager, coach, roving catching and hitting instructor, player and ESPN broadcaster. Stearns joined the Seattle organization in 2012 as minor league catching coordinator. In 2013, when Daren Brown joined the Mariners Stearns took over as Rainiers manager. Stearns was the New York Mets Major League third base coaching and catching instructor in 2000 and 2001. Stearns played 11 seasons in the Majors, combing to hit .260 with 152 doubles, 46 home runs and 312 RBI in 810 games with Philadelphia (1974) and the Mets (1975-84). He was a four-time National League All-Star (1977, 1979, 1980 and 1982).
Van Slyke, 52, has been away from baseball for the last four seasons after serving as the first base coach for the Detroit Tigers from 2006-2009. With the Tigers, Van Slyke was part of the same coaching staff as Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon. Van Slyke was a three-time All-Star (1988, 1992, 1993) and won five Gold Gloves during his 13-season Major League career. He was a career .274 hitter with 164 home runs in 1,658 games with the St. Louis Cardinals (1983-86), Pittsburgh Pirates (1987-1994), Baltimore Orioles (1995) and Philadelphia Phillies (1995). He was also teammates with McClendon with the Pirates from 1990-94.
Waits, 61, joins the Major League staff after spending the last three seasons as the Mariners Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Waits has been instrumental in coordinating the development of the Mariners up-and-coming pitchers, including RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP James Paxton and RHP Erasmo Ramirez. Prior to joining the Mariners organization he spent 15 seasons (1996-2010) in the New York Mets Player Development department, including the 2003 season as the Mets Major League Bullpen Coach. Waits pitched in the Majors for 12 seasons with the Texas Rangers (1973), Cleveland Indians (1975-1983) and Milwaukee Brewers (1983-85). Overall he compiled a 79-92 record with 8 saves, 47 complete games and 10 shutouts at the Major League level.
Woodward, 37, spent last season as the Mariners roving minor league infield coordinator. It was his first coaching position after retiring from a 17-year professional baseball career. With the Mariners last season he played an key role in the grown of infielders Nick Franklin and Brad Miller as they elevated to the Major League level, and worked closely with top prospects Chris Taylor and D.J. Peterson. Woodward played nearly every position on the diamond during his 12 seasons at the Major League level with the Toronto Blue Jays (1999-2004, 2011), New York Mets (2005-06), Atlanta Braves (2007), Seattle Mariners (2009, 2010) and the Boston Red Sox (2009).