Some of the familiar faces beside manager Scott Servais on the Seattle Mariners bench won’t be there next season, including hitting coach Edgar Martinez and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
Now he’ll rely on Paul Davis and Tim Laker.
The Mariners completed their coaching staff overhaul announcing on Monday that they have hired Laker from the Arizona Diamondbacks as their next hitting coach to replace Martinez, who asked to transition to a new role as the club’s organizational hitting advisor.
Laker spent the past two seasons as the Diamondbacks’ assistant hitting coach. This will be his first season as the top hitting coach for a big-league club, though he served that role with the Indians at Double-A Akron in 2016.
“Tim brings a great combination of both swing mechanics and offensive approach that I believe our hitters will connect with,” Servais said in a press release.
Laker is a former big-league catcher, playing parts of 11 seasons from 1992-2006 for Montreal, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
But Laker subscribes to much of the new-age of hitting and driving it through analytics. He said what attracted him to the Mariners was that he felt they were ahead of the curve in their minor league development, using the data from swing analytics software such as Rapsodo and Blast Motion during their minor league swing camp recently to coach.
“You have to nowadays or you are going to get left behind,” Laker said of being up to date on analytics. “The game is changing rapidly and if you don’t change you’re going to get passed.
“I hate that term, launch angle, but I’m all about driving the ball. I think it all starts with a good foundation and a good swing to work off of. But just the way the game is going today, you have to have an understanding of the analytics and using the numbers and the pitch data to formulate a game plan to attack the pitchers.”
Laker said he worked with Mitch Haniger last offseason three times in California, where both are from, after Laker was recommended to Haniger by Daniel Descalso. Laker said he also spent much of his offseason working with Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez alongside Craig Wallenbrock and Robert Van Scoyoc. They helped Martinez go through a swing change that turned him into one of the top hitters in baseball and did the same for former Mariner Chris Taylor.
And Laker has already been working with Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy this offseason.
“We were fortunate enough to hit with a lot of guys who sought us out in the offseason and I’ve been part of that,” Laker said. “I don’t want to say we’re ahead of everybody else, but I have some beliefs about getting the ball off the ground and driving the ball. It’s kind of what I do with my offseason that I feel has helped me doing this for so many years and working with so many hitters and different philosophies and different organizations. I’ve had a chance to get a feel for this.”
Laker fills out the Mariners’ staff. Here’s how that will look:
Manager — Scott Servais (Fourth year as Manager, 17th year in coaching/player development in pro baseball)
Bench Coach — Manny Acta (Second year as Bench Coach, Fourth year on Seattle staff, 25th year as coach in pro baseball)
Hitting Coach — Tim Laker (FIrst year as hitting coach, 13th year as coach in pro baseball)
Pitching Coach — Paul Davis (First year as pitching coach, seventh year as coach in pro baseball)
Third Base Coach — Chris Prieto (First year as third base coach, sixth year on Seattle staff, ninth year as coach in pro baseball)
First Base/Infield Coach — Perry Hill (First year as first base/infield coach, 27th year as coach in pro baseball)
Bullpen Coach — Jim Brower (First year as bullpen coach, second year on Seattle staff, ninth year as coach in pro baseball)
Major League Field Coordinator — Jared Sandberg (First year as major league field coordinator, 12th year as coach in pro baseball)