On Saturday afternoon, the Seattle Mariners announced the hiring of former Mariners designated hitter and third baseman Edgar Martinez as their new hitting coach.
Howard Johnson had been the hitting coach for the first three months of this season, but the Mariners have decided to move in a new direction. Johnson has been reassigned to a Minor League role following his replacement. HoJo, as they like to call him, has been a part of the Mariners organization since 2013 when he was the hitting coach with the AAA club, the Tacoma Rainiers. Starting in 2014, he joined the Major League club with the new coaching staff that was brought in under new manager Lloyd McClendon.
Martinez, now 52, seems to be the perfect man for this job as he spent his entire 18-year MLB career with Seattle, mostly as a designated hitter. He played in 2,055 games as a Mariner. The seven-time All Star ended his career with a slash line of .312/.418/.515 and also won two batting titles. He is regarded as one of the best right-handed hitters in Major League history, and a bid to the Hall of Fame has been very controversial as he played most of his career as a DH.
This season has been quite a struggle for the Mariners at the plate. Seattle is 28th in the league in total runs scored, and they tote the worst average in the league, at .233. With names like Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz in the lineup, numbers like these just cannot be acceptable and the front office felt a new voice was needed.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said in a statement released by the team, “We had reached the point where a change was necessary.”
Martinez and the Mariners kicked off his tenure with a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros. Cruz hit his first home run for the month of June, and the Mariners plated five runs against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel. At 32-37, by no means are the Mariners out of playoff contention, but a change was necessary to spark their sputtering offense. Edgar Martinez may be the answer for a team that was expected by many to be among the top teams in the American League this season.