Update 4 p.m.: I talked to a Mariners’ representative, who wanted to stress that McGwire was never formally offered the club’s hitting coach position in 2003. They don’t dispute McGwire’s contention that he discussed the possibility with Melvin, but say it never advanced to the point of a job offer. Indeed, it apparently never got any farther than informal talks between Melvin and McGwire to gauge his potential interest. When he said the time wasn’t right, that’s where it ended.
Mark McGwire, who is getting a lot of attention in his new role as Cardinals’ hitting coach, dropped an interesting revelation today on Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He said that in 2003, Mariners manager Bob Melvin — who had just replaced Lou Piniella as manager — contacted him about becoming Seattle’s hitting coach.
McGwire, who had retired in 2001, told Goold he declined because he was just starting a family with his wife. He later turned down an overture from the Colorado Rockies to be their hitting coach, said McGwire.
Melvin ended up hiring Lamar Johnson as hitting coach in 2003, and he lasted just one year, replaced by Hall of Famer Paul Molitor in 2004. Melvin and his staff was fired after the 2004 season.
The notion of McGwire working with the likes of Edgar Martinez, Brett Boone, Ichiro and Raul Ibanez is an interesting one. It’s likely that the McGwire connection in ’03 was Rene Lachemann, whom Melvin hired as his bench coach. Lachemann was Tony La Russa’s bench coach in Oakland during McGwire’s glory years with the A’s.
Note that McGwire’s infamous Congressional hearing in which he repeatedly refused to answer steroids questions by saying he was “not here to talk about the past” occurred in March of 2005. McGwire admitted last month to using steroids during his career.
(Photo by McClatchy Newspapers)