SEATTLE — Daren Brown managed his last game with the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers on Sunday and, after being named the Seattle Mariners’ interim manager Monday, introduced himself to, well, a bunch of familiar players.
Ten players on the Mariners’ current roster began the season with Tacoma.
“I think it should be not only easier for me, but also easier for them,” said Brown, who has coached and managed the past 10 years in the Mariners’ organization, including the past four with the Rainiers.
He replaces Don Wakamatsu, who the Mariners fired Monday with the team 42-70 this season. The Mariners also fired bench coach Ty VanBurkleo, pitching coach Rick Adair and mental performance coach Steve Hecht.
“It is a difficult situation on my part, but I also think it’s also a difficult situation on the players in the clubhouse,” said Brown, a 42-year-old native of Oklahoma. “Whatever we can do to ease that transition a little bit, I think that will be a plus for us.”
Those who’ve played under Brown describe him as a knowledgeable baseball man who is fair and firm with the players, but also understanding to their needs.
“I have known him since ‘06 when I played for him at Double-A and he’s a hard worker,” said Matt Tuiasosopo, who played much of this season under Brown at Tacoma and now is with the Mariners. “Every day, whether it’s offense or defense, he’s out there working. That’s Brownie. He’s honest with you. He tells you how it is, whether you like it or not, that’s how it is. Honest and hard worker.”
Brown described himself as a manager whose style is dictated by his players.
“One thing that you learn in the minor leagues, it’s about personnel, what you have, and that’s kind of what you manage,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got guys who can run. Sometimes you don’t have guys that can run.”
Brown calls this job a great opportunity even though it comes with an “interim” label and no guarantee how seriously he’ll be considered when the Mariners search for their next full-time manager.
“For me to come in here on the first day, I don’t think you can flip a switch and say that you’ve got all the problems figured out,” Brown said. “That would be naive on my part. I haven’t been in the clubhouse. I haven’t been in the dugout. I haven’t done any of that all summer long. I think, coming in and spending a couple of days with the club, I’ll run through things and then assess the situation from there. And then I think I’ll have a better idea of what the challenge is.”
Just getting to Seattle on Monday was a challenge.
The Rainiers, who lead the Pacific Coast League Pacific North Division, had played a 12-inning game Sunday against the Omaha Royals when Brown got a call about 11 p.m. with word that he would become interim manager. He caught a flight out of Omaha at 6:30 a.m.
“I haven’t had much sleep the past 24 hours,” he said. “I would say I was surprised. But at the same time I know it’s been a disappointing season up here and, at some point, you know things can happen. That’s just the nature of the beast here.
“I feel very fortunate and I feel like it’s an opportunity to be named the interim manager. I have a lot of respect for Don, Ty and Rick. They’re good friends. I wish them the best, but I also know that’s part of the business that we’re in.”
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog