EVERETT — Four years without managing was enough.
Jose Moreno is back, about to begin his third stint as manager of the Everett AquaSox. The Class A short-season Northwest League team opens its regular season at 7:05 p.m. Thursday against the Hillsboro Hops at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Moreno is in his 17th season overall with the Seattle Mariners organization and spent the past four years as Seattle’s Latin American field coordinator. While that allowed him to interact with players during the day, he grew weary of being relegated to the bench or the stands when the games begin.
“I was on the field, but I would like to go back to the managing position,” he said. “As a manager you’re in contact with the players every day. They can take you and your personality and put together a team and compete every day.”
With former AquaSox manager Rob Mummau shifting to scouting full time, Moreno returns to the role he filled in Everett in 2008 and 2010. The 2010 AquaSox won the NWL championship and tied the 1987 Everett Giants for a franchise-best 47 wins.
Moreno began his managerial career in the M’s organization in 2001 with their Venezuelan Summer League team, where he managed for six seasons. His other managerial stops include two seasons with Pulaski and one each at High Desert and Peoria in addition to Everett.
“To me, when I talk to people, Everett is the best affiliate,” Moreno said. “Great fans, the environment, the travel isn’t real long. Good division, good competition. I think it’s a great first step to learn how to be professional baseball players and it’s a great environment. I really enjoy it and I’m happy to be back.”
Moreno is familiar with the players who will begin the season in Everett. He’s worked with a number of them for several years at the Mariners’ academy in the Dominican Republic and has spent the past three months with the group at extended spring training in Arizona.
As was reported in Monday’s Herald, a number of the players who will begin the 2017 season with the AquaSox will return to Arizona when the 2017 draftees arrive next week. Even for those who ultimately will be sent back, it’s a valuable learning experience, Moreno said.
“It’s a decision they have no control over so (I told them) just come over here, enjoy it,” Moreno said. “This is a learning process. If you have to go back, continue to work and try to get better to receive the call to move up as soon as possible. But try to enjoy it if you’re going to be here for 10 days (because) that’s the only thing you can do. Come here, work, enjoy it, see the fans, the environment and try to learn.”
The Frogs went through a lengthy workout Sunday evening and practiced Monday under the lights at Everett Memorial Stadium.
It’s a stark contrast to Arizona, where the team often worked out at 6 a.m. to avoid the stifling midday heat.
“We are trying to create the routine that we’re going to have almost every day,” Moreno said. “(Sunday) we (came) to the ballpark at 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock like a regular day that we’re going to have during the season.”
The AquaSox play the annual Everett Cup game at 7:05 p.m. today against the Everett Merchants before opening the NWL regular season Thursday.
Also with the club is Moreno’s 14-year-old son, Andy Jose. A freshman-to-be back home in Peoria, the younger Moreno will remain with the ball club until July, soaking up as much professional experience as he can.
“This has been my job all my life and he’s (always) been around the clubhouse,” his father said. “He had the opportunity to stay and play summer ball, but I think it’s a good opportunity to come over here and be with the players, work with (performance coach) Mike Apodaca, try to get a little bit stronger and get ready for freshman (year).”
If it goes well, perhaps Andy Jose could be back in Everett as a player a few years from now.
For the latest AquaSox news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.