Martinez will step aside from his position as the big-league hitting coach and move into the role of organizational hitting adviser.
In the final days of the 2018 season, the fatigue from frustration was evident on Edgar Martinez’s face.
Always affable and optimistic about the next game and the next at-bat for his hitters, the Mariners hitting coach still suffered through the failures of an offense that didn’t live up to its expectations, instead producing at a level well below average.
“It’s been a grind, but they have kept working,” he said in the final week of the season.
But the Mariners icon is stepping aside for a new person with a new voice to try for better results in 2019. Martinez will take on a new position in the organization that will offer him a chance to work with hitters at every level in the system — and allows him to see his wife, Holli, and three children more.
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“I wanted to have more of a flexible schedule,” Martinez said Tuesday in a conference call. “The coaching goes into long hours and the travel. With the situation with my family at this point, I just thought if I could have an ideal situation where I could spend some time with an MLB team and be part of it and help and expanding other roles, but also be home more with the family, that was is what I was thinking. It’s more of a broad role that allows me to be home more, but still tied to the team and be part of it.”
His decision wasn’t made because of the team’s failures at the plate, particularly in the second half of the season. The Mariners averaged 4.18 runs per game (11th in the American League) and 4.07 runs per game after the All-Star break, which was second fewest in the AL.
“Obviously, I wasn’t happy with the way the offense performed,” Martinez said. “I knew it was kind of tough in the second half, but that wasn’t why I made this decision. I’ve been thinking about it since the previous year.”
Per a team news release, Martinez will be “present at Spring Training and present throughout the season to work with hitters and hitting coaches from all levels of the Mariners’ system. The Mariners can use Edgar for special projects, including one-on-one coaching, as well as more traditional roaming duties.”
General manager Jerry Dipoto, in a statement, said, “Edgar came to Scott (Servais, manager) and me after the season ended and talked to us about his desire to find a position of value within the organization that would provide more flexibility than the role of major league hitting coach. We have spent the past three weeks working with Edgar to design a new position that will allow us to take advantage of his knowledge, passion and teaching skill at both the Major and minor league levels, while allowing Edgar flexibility that is unavailable in his current role.”
Sources indicated Martinez, 55, had seriously started contemplating this move in the final weeks of the season. The rigors of another marathon grind as the big-league hitting coach had taken its toll since he started the job June 20, 2015.
“There is one side of me that enjoys it a lot,” he said. “I enjoy working with the players. We have great guys in the clubhouse and we have a great coaching staff. But when you have a family and don’t see the family much, especially when you have young kids, it can be tough. The situation is when you come home late at night, your whole family is sleeping. And in my case, I get up early in the morning just so I can see the kids and Holli, and then they’re gone the whole day and I come back at night and it’s the same role again. It’s a situation where at this point in life, I’d rather choose to be around a little more.”
Dipoto and Servais will have two vacancies to fill on the big-league coaching staff. The Mariners decided not to bring back pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. for next season.
Martinez said he believes in his new role, he can help the new hitting coach transition to the job.
“With a new coach, it will probably be an adjustment to learn the players and getting to know the games,” he said. “And just offer in any area that I can help.”