I got a text message from old friend Rene Lachemann, the Mariners’ bench coach in 2003-04 (and manager in 1981-83), who shed a little more light on the M’s overtures to Mark McGwire about their hitting-coach job in ’03, Bob Melvin’s first year as manager. He confirms what I speculated in yesterday’s blog post, that he was the link to McGwire because of their association on the A’s in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“I did contact Mark about the hitting coach job for Seattle and I also talked to him about the hitting job for the Oakland A’s,” writes Lachemann, who re-joined Oakland’s coaching staff in 2005 after Melvin was fired. “He didn’t feel it was the right time for him. I believe he will be an outstanding hitting coach.
“Say hi to all the great fans in Seattle.”
In a follow-up phone call, Lachemann (who will be the hitting coach at Class AAA Colorado Springs in the Rockies’ organization this season) recalls that he made the call to McGwire at the behest of Melvin, who was in the process of assembling his coaching staff. Lachemann backed up what team president Chuck Armstrong said yesterday, that no job offer was ever made to McGwire. Lach did say that the interest on the part of Melvin and himself was sincere, but since McGwire quickly expressed that the time wasn’t right, it never went any further than that, and the Mariners hired Lamar Johnson as their hitting coach.
While with Oakland (where he coached a second stint from 2005-07 after being a mainstay on Tony La Russa’s staff from 1987-92), Lachemann said he reached out again to McGwire, who again expressed that the time wasn’t right.
“He always worked on his hitting, and I always thought he’d be a great hitting coach,” Lachemann said.