Looking for answers, Mariners fire hitting coach Pentland

Updated: June 9, 2008, 7:22 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- The slumping Seattle Mariners fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland on Monday and replaced him with special assistant Lee Elia.

Elia, who turns 71 next month, was Seattle's batting coach from 1993-97 and is perhaps best known for a tirade he once unleashed as manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Neyer: Sinking Ship

Hitting coach Jeff Pentland paid for the Mariners' mess with his job, but Seattle's woeful play is a total team effort, Rob Neyer writes. Blog Insider

Mariners offense: AL ranks*
Rank
Runs PG 4.02 13th
BA .248 13th
OBP .305 14th
Slug pct. .377 13th
*before Monday's games

"Lee is vocal," Seattle manager John McLaren said. "He can pat you on the back and cheerlead you and, if he needs to, he can get in your face and challenge you. I've seen both sides of him."

Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said he hoped a "different voice" would help the team with the worst record in the majors.

"It's all about results," Bavasi said. "That's probably the biggest thing. We felt that this crew had underperformed for a long period of time. This isn't new."

Elia, who accepted the role late Sunday, took over Pentland's duties before the Mariners' three-game series at Toronto that started Monday night. He will remain with the Mariners indefinitely, even though he had previously said he was not interested in a return to full-time coaching. Elia discussed the move with his family before accepting the role.

"I'm a Seattle Mariners guy," Elia said. "I've spent 10 lovely years here. "We're going through a little bit of a tough time right now. If we can tighten this thing up and I can be a part of it, I discussed it with my wife and daughters and it's not like I'm going away for 100 years. I'll be up there for a little while."

Seattle made the move less than a week after team president Chuck Armstrong ripped into the coaching staff. Expected to be contenders in the AL West, the Mariners began the day at 22-41. They have scored two or fewer runs in 20 games.

The Mariners were next-to-last in hitting in the AL at .248 and were last in the majors in on-base percentage (.305).

"This team hasn't been performing at the level that we're capable of performing," outfielder Raul Ibanez said. "I hold myself accountable for my share of that load. It means it's time for all of us to pick it up. It's been time."

Out of the playoffs since 2001, the Mariners lost 2-1 at Boston on Sunday, their sixth defeat in seven games.

Bavasi said he was not upset with the effort of his roster, both batters and pitchers, but said he wanted the whole team to be "smarter and more efficient."

The 61-year-old Pentland was in his third season as Seattle's hitting coach. He was the only holdover from 2007 when the Mariners overhauled their seven-man coaching staff.

"Jeff has an excellent and proven track record, and those of us who have worked with him are well aware he knows hitting," Bavasi said. "Unfortunately, we have consistently, and for an extended period, underperformed at the plate and we are hopeful that a different voice might help the situation."

Elia is in his 47th season of professional baseball. He was a part-time special assistant to McLaren and was in uniform as an instructor during spring training.

The former manager of the Cubs (1982-83) and Philadelphia Phillies (1987-88) was at home in Florida during the parts of this season that he wasn't with the Mariners.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press