What’s new is familiar for Mariners manager Scott Servais’ coaching staff going into the 2020 season.
With three vacancies on the staff due to the firing of bullpen coach Jim Brower and third base/outfield coach Chris Prieto and the reassignment of pitching coach Paul Davis, the Mariners decided to fill the spots with three promising young coaches already in the organization while adjusting some titles and responsibilities for two of the returning coaches.
“We have a hardworking coaching staff with a diverse set of skills and experiences,” Servais said in a statement Thursday. “I am really excited about the ability of this group to connect with all of our players, and about the passion they have for teaching and helping our guys improve on a daily basis.”
The only two carry-overs in their same role are hitting coach Tim Laker and first base/infield coach Perry Hill. Both coaches received rave reviews from players for their knowledge, teaching skills and commitment to improvement.
Manny Acta, who has been on Servais’ staff since for his entire tenure, will return to coach third base after spending the last two seasons as bench coach. Acta was the third base coach for his first two seasons on Servais’ staff.
Jarred Sandberg will take over as bench coach. He was brought in last season from the Tampa Bay organization to be the field coordinator. Sandberg was a longtime and successful Class AAA manager for the Rays.
Brian De Lunas will return as bullpen coach, a job he had in 2018. He spent last season as the director of pitching strategies. Davis will move over to De Lunas’ vacated spot as the chief pitching strategist for the organization.
Pete Woodworth has been named the pitching coach. He moves from the same role at Class AA Arkansas where he worked with top prospects Logan Gilbert, Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield and others. The promotion to the big-league staff was expected. When Mitch Canham left his job as manager at Arkansas to take the head-coaching job at his alma mater, Oregon State, in June, he wanted to bring Woodworth with him. Major League Baseball sources indicated that the Mariners wanted to make sure Woodworth remained in the organization and promised him an opportunity at the big-league level. He spent September with the Mariners serving as an extra coach and observing the pitching staff.
“It was awesome to get up there and spend time with Scott and a lot of the staff and get to know ins and outs of the staff,” Woodworth said. “But it was great to see that it was not a big difference. The things we are doing at the minor league levels of the organization are very similar, if not the exact same, that we are doing and be doing a better job of at the big-league level. You still have to communicate with these guys, you still have to connect and you still have to hold them accountable.”
Woodworth was named the Texas League coach of the year for 2o19. The Travelers’ pitching staff finished the season with 1,324 strikeouts, the second-highest total in the league’s history. He served as pitching coach for High A Modesto in 2017-18. He came to the Mariners in 2016 for Low-A Clinton.
After working as a minor league hitting strategist with a fair amount of time at the big-league level, Jarret DeHart has been promoted to assistant hitting coach. Before that, he served as hitting coach for the Arizona League Mariners. DeHart was a noticeable presence during pregame work, and his knowledge of advanced technology as a teaching tool is something the organization values.
Carson Vitale will move from minor league field coordinator, a job he held the past two seasons, to major league field coordinator, taking over Sandberg’s responsibilities. Vitale was considered a rising star in their system by Servais and director of player development Andy McKay.
Blessed with plenty of enthusiasm and advanced thinking toward coaching strategies, Vitale has become a player favorite in the minor league system. Before joining the Mariners, he worked as the Dodgers’ international field coordinator. He also spent four seasons in the Angels player development.