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Edgar embraces return to Mariners' staff

Hitting coach back, alongside new skipper Servais

SEATTLE -- When Edgar Martinez said he wanted to return as hitting coach next year with a new manager, there wasn't any hesitation on the Mariners' part.

If the man with the street adjacent to Safeco Field named in his honor and a restaurant down the left-field line wants to be part of the program, well, there isn't a need for debate.

Just ask new skipper Scott Servais about whether he's comfortable inheriting Martinez as part of his new staff.

"The highlight of my days so far here was when I got to sit down with Edgar for an hour," said Servais, who was named Friday as the successor to Lloyd McClendon. "It was kind of crazy. I've been wanting to talk to Edgar Martinez for 15 years. He was the greatest right-handed hitter of my era."

Servais spent 11 years in the Majors as a catcher from 1991-2001, while Martinez's 18-year career in Seattle spanned from 1987-2004. Like most players in that period, he marveled at Martinez's abilities at the plate. And as a former catcher and long-time baseball junkie with an inquiring mind, he welcomed the opportunity to pick Martinez's mind and get a feel for his philosophies on hitting.

"Within an hour conversation, I got to ask him real questions and stuff I'd wanted to ask him as a player," Servais said. "I played my whole career in the National League, but watching him in the American League and how he did it, I loved it. So Edgar Martinez, hitting coach? Yeah, no brainer. And obviously an all-time Mariner. It's awesome."

Servais is bringing in some of his own people. Tim Bogar, who he worked alongside in the Angels' front-office last year, will be his bench coach. Long-time D-backs assistant Mel Stottlemyre Jr. will be the pitching coach.

But Servais is open to keeping former Mariners part of the program. Catcher Dan Wilson, another member of the Mariners Hall of Fame, interviewed Monday for the open bullpen coach position, and former outfielder Raul Ibanez has expressed interest in rejoining the Mariners in some capacity, though not likely in a full-time coaching gig.

Ibanez, who retired after 19 seasons last year, is currently working as an analyst for FOX. Wilson, who retired in 2005, spent last season as a roving catching instructor in the Mariners' Minor League system.

Martinez tested the waters in a similar fashion last year when he signed on as a roving hitting instructor. But when Seattle's offense struggled, he was promoted to replace Howard Johnson as the big league hitting coach on June 20, and the results were impressive.

A team hitting .233/.295/.375 and averaging 3.4 runs in the first 68 games hiked those numbers to .260/.322/.437 and 4.5 runs in the 94 games after Martinez came aboard. So the only question for new general manager Jerry Dipoto, when he dismissed McClendon and most of his staff after the season, was whether Martinez wanted to keep coaching.

That answer was yes, and Martinez's new contract was announced Monday.

"I'm looking forward to starting the season so I can have a full year with the team," Martinez said. "I enjoyed last year and I'm looking forward to working with the same guys and new guys, too, so we can see what we can accomplish."

The 52-year-old said he hit it off quickly with Servais when the two sat down for the first time on Friday.

"You can tell as soon as you talk to him, it's going to be easy communication," Martinez said.

The hard part, for Martinez, was making the huge time commitment of being a full-time coach last year. But with his children now grown, the time seemed right, and last year's experience reinforced his decision.

"When I got the job for the Minor League position, I wanted to try it and see how I liked going back as a coach," Martinez said. "I did enjoy working with the kids and also the time I spent in the big leagues. So I knew, OK, I'm ready to take this as a job for a long time.

"I kind of expected how it was going to be. Going back to the Minor Leagues gives you a little bit of an idea. And the years I've been around coaches, it gives you an idea. It's a commitment, it's work and going back to travel and being away, all that is a commitment. But still, I enjoy it. So I'm ready to go back."

And in typical Edgar fashion, he deflects the improvement the offense made during his time on the job.

"I take pride in my work," he said. "I don't take it lightly when I go into any job. But it's a credit to the players. They bought into the idea of what we wanted to accomplish, and they did the job. They worked hard every day to get better, and it's a credit to them."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.
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