Dave Hansen will attempt to do what so many others before him could not: find a way to make the Seattle Mariners hit on a consistent basis.
On Monday, the organization announced that Hansen — a one-time Mariner — has been named the new hitting coach for the 2013 season. He will be the sixth person to hold the position since 2008.
“I’m really excited to be back,” Hansen said via conference call. “I loved (Seattle) as a player. Safeco Field is first class, as well as the organization.”
Hansen, who had a brief stints with the Mariners in 2004 and 2005 as a third baseman/bench player, replaces Chris Chambliss, who was let go earlier this month after two years in the position.
“I think Dave will be a good addition to our big-league staff,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said in a press release. “He’s had success as both a coach and a player, and has a clear vision of how to help prepare our hitters to be successful.”
Hansen himself was recently let go as the hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In an odd coincidence, Hansen replaced Jeff Pentland, last year’s Rainiers hitting coach and former Mariners hitting coach, midway through the 2011 season on an interim basis. The Dodgers removed the interim tag before this season. However, he was the only coach on manager Don Mattingly’s staff not retained for 2013. He was offered another position within the organization but chose to look elsewhere.
The Mariners — specifically general manager Jack Zduriencik — contacted him immediately.
“Other teams were involved as the process went on, but Jack and Eric were persistent,” Hansen said. “They had been keeping an eye on me since our first interview two years ago. They just wanted to make it happen, and I was more than happy to do the same. It feels good they were tracking me and wanted me back real bad.”
That first interview was for the job that went to Chambliss.
“At that time I didn’t have, I don’t think, quite the experience they were looking for,” Hansen said. “I needed to go get that experience, which I do have now.”
Before joining the Dodgers, Hansen worked for four seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor-league system. He started in 2007 as the hitting coach at Class AA Mobile. He was then served as minor-league hitting coordinator from 2008 to 2010.
“I had the chance to talk to Dave several times, and have also talked to players and coaches he’s worked with, and we feel he is a great fit for our club,”
Zduriencik said. “We look forward to having Dave re-join the Seattle organization.”
This season the Dodgers finished with an 86-76 record missing out on the postseason. As a team, they averaged 3.93 runs per game, fourth worst in the NL. As a team, LA hit .252 with a .317 on-base percentage and a .690 OPS (third worst in the NL).
His basic philosophy of hitting isn’t much different than his predecessors.
“We need to create pressure on the defense,” he said. “Obviously our number one goal is to touch home base, period, and to take the necessary steps to do that. That takes one-through-nine with the same mentality of how to get on base, drive runs in and do the little things to create runs. Within that, every guy is an individual and they’re going to develop their own approach to execute the right plan.”
Hansen spent most of his playing career with the Dodgers (11 years) as third baseman/utility player. He was a career. 260 hitter with a career .360 on-base percentage.
After signing with the Padres as a free agent before the 2003 season, he was traded to the Mariners in 2004 along with Kevin Jarvis and Wiki Gonzalez and minor-leaguer Vince Faison for Jeff Cirillo, Brian Sweeney and cash considerations.
In the 2004 season, Hansen appeared in 57 games for the Mariners, hitting .282 (22-for-78) and was traded back to the Padres for pitcher Jon Huber. After being released by the Cubs in 2005, Hansen returned to the Mariners and appeared in 60 games, mostly as a pinch hitter. He hit .173.
Hansen and his wife, Julie, reside in San Clemente, Calif., with their three children.