Seattle hires skipper

Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2004

SEATTLE Mike Hargrove knows just what he's getting into as the new manager of the last-place Seattle Mariners.

After all, he lost 98, 95 and 91 games in his final three years with the Baltimore Orioles.

The Mariners aren't looking for a quick fix after going 63-99 this season, their worst finish since the 1983 Mariners lost 102 games.

''We know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us,'' Hargrove said Wednesday when the Mariners introduced him as the new manager.

Hargrove, who has 13 seasons of managerial experience with the Orioles and Cleveland Indians, agreed to a three-year deal through 2007.

''We want to build this the right way,'' Hargrove said. ''We want to get back, obviously, to Seattle's tradition of winning as quickly as possible. But we want this thing to last a long time.''

Hargrove replaces Bob Melvin, who was fired Oct. 10, a day after Seattle ended the season with the third-worst record in the majors. The Mariners were in last place in the AL West for all but one day of the season.

''He has a tremendous resume and is battle-tested in every facet of leading a major league club,'' Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said.

Under Lou Piniella, who managed the Mariners for 10 seasons before leaving for Tampa Bay two years ago, Seattle tied the major league record for victories with 116 in 2001. The Mariners made it to the AL championship series under Piniella in 1995, 2000 and 2001.

Bavasi said Hargrove, who will celebrate his 56th birthday next Tuesday, was chosen from four finalists who all have major league managing experience Grady Little, Terry Collins and Jerry Manuel.

Hargrove was called two weeks ago by the Mariners, who wanted to have a manager in place before the start of the World Series this weekend.

Teams aren't allowed to make managerial announcements during the Fall Classic because baseball doesn't want to detract from its title event.

Hargrove will be working with a newly formed coaching staff as all of Melvin's coaches except pitching coach Bryan Price were fired, too. Among those let go was bench coach Rene Lachemann, one of 12 previous Mariners managers.

Mark Wiley, Hargrove's pitching coach in Cleveland and Baltimore, is a possible candidate for that job in Seattle if Price isn't retained. Hargrove and Bavasi will pick the coaching staff.

''I'm very fond of Mark,'' Hargrove said of Wiley, who is unemployed. ''But I also know the Seattle people have a lot of trust in Bryan. We'll just see where it goes.''

Hargrove had been an assistant to Indians GM Mark Shapiro. He has a career major league managerial record of 996-963, including 721-591 with the Indians from 1991-99.

He led the Indians to five consecutive AL Central Division titles from 1995-99, and World Series appearances in 1995 and 1997. He managed Baltimore from 2000-03.

Hargrove was fired by both the Indians and the Orioles, with Baltimore letting him go after the Orioles lost 91 games in 2003. He was the manager when Cleveland knocked Seattle out of the 1995 ALCS in six games.

Hargrove is confident the Mariners will be contenders again soon. Despite their horrible record, the Mariners drew 2.9 million fans to Safeco Field last season, when they had a player payroll of $90 million. They are expected to have a similar payroll next season.

''From the ownership to the general manager all the way down are people that are dedicated to bringing a winner here,'' Hargrove said. ''I'm not sure that's the case everywhere else.''

Hargrove said he rediscovered his passion for managing while working in the Indians' front office last season when he went to spring training.

''I think I'm pretty good at what I do,'' he said.

He said he wasn't involved in the Indians' decision not to offer a contract to longtime shortstop Omar Vizquel, who played for the Mariners from 1989-93 before being traded to Cleveland.

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