Jeff Manto, hitting coach
Being a great hitter doesn’t always help a player become a great coach. It may even be a liability. The Mariners have run through a series of hitting coaches lately, and none seem to have done the team any good, and few seem to have done any player any good.
Paul Molitor’s in the Hall of Fame, he was here for a year and then left.
Don Baylor had over 2,000 hits and some great years as a hitter. He got a year, too.
Pentland, who replaced them, has no major league experience but is highly regarded for his work as a hitting coach. So major league success isn’t a requirement for being a hitting or pitching coach, but it certainly does get players to listen, while at least in that way, coaches without credentials have to work harder to establish that they can offer something to a player.
Which brings me to Jeff Manto, who by the hand of fate, was hired as the Pirates hitting coach.
Manto was a Mariner in 1996 and played in 21 games as part of his long, seemingly random career. He played here and in Japan, in many different organizations, he hit well, and really badly, and in the later part of his career he hung around Buffalo, playing for the Indians’ AAA team, knocking the snot out of the ball, sometimes getting a couple at-bats for a major league team, and sometimes just wowing International League fans.
As a player, he’s an anti-Molitor, almost: a long career (1985-2000), but with most of his playing time in the minors, often a spare part when he was carried on a roster at all.
It’ll be intersting to see if Pentland can get any better results than the hitting stars the M’s have had lately, and if Manto, as a hitting coach with a different background than either Pentland or Molitor and Baylor, can find success with the Pirates.