Jeff Manto, hitting coach

DMZ · November 25, 2005 at 8:55 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

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.


26 Responses to “Jeff Manto, hitting coach”

  1. Jim Thomsen on November 25th, 2005 9:09 pm

    You know who had a major-league career a lot like Jeff Manto’s? Probably the most influential batting coach of the modern baseball era, the late Charley Lau

  2. Jim Thomsen on November 25th, 2005 9:11 pm

    Walt Hriniak is another … just 25 hits over two seasons in The Show. Yet, like Lau, he turned entire generations of big-league players into punch-and-Judy, go-the-other-way hitters.

  3. Jookie Junk on November 25th, 2005 9:20 pm

    Didn’t Manto hit a 3-run homerun in his last at-bat as a Mariner? Has any other Seattle player been cut after a homerun?

  4. Jim Thomsen on November 25th, 2005 9:27 pm

    The closest would be Dann Howitt, who ended Nolan Ryan’s career with a grand slam in the Kingdome in 1993 (Ryan broke his forearm on that pitch and never threw again) … and disappeared very shortly after.

  5. Sphexi on November 25th, 2005 9:32 pm

    Way back in 1978, Kevin Pasley homered in his last AB for the Mariners. It turned out to be his last ML AB too.

  6. Sphexi on November 25th, 2005 9:33 pm
  7. Emerald on November 25th, 2005 9:45 pm

    Wasn’t Arod’s last at bat with the Mariners a home run? (in the playoffs vs the Yankees?)

  8. Mr. Egaas on November 25th, 2005 9:45 pm

    I remember Manto! He was right up there with the Doug Stranges of the world.

  9. Emerald on November 25th, 2005 9:50 pm


    I was wrong, it was Arod’s second to last at bat he homered.

    Arod hit a single in his last at bat

  10. msb on November 25th, 2005 9:50 pm

    and coincidently, Doug Strange is now the Pirates assistant GM…

    “Manto, 41, was the Pirates’ roving minor-league hitting coordinator, a position he held since Oct. 17, 2002…. Manto, who lives in Bristol, Pa., near Philadelphia, will be asked to improve an offense that last season ranked 10th in batting average (.259), 12th in home runs (139), slugging percentage (.400) and on-base percentage (.322) and 14th in runs scored (680) in the National League. “If you have 12 hitters, then you have 12 different ways of hitting,” he said. “It’s like ‘This is what you do. Let’s make it better.’ Everybody’s different, so you teach them differently.”

  11. Scraps on November 26th, 2005 6:15 am

    “If you have 12 hitters, then you have 12 different ways of hitting,” he said. “It’s like ‘This is what you do. Let’s make it better.’ Everybody’s different, so you teach them differently.”

    That is exactly what I want to hear from a coach.

  12. Edgar is Go(o)d on November 26th, 2005 8:34 am

    Trivia: I was at Jeff Manto’s first game as a Mariner. He arrived in mid-game and I was amused to watch him go around the dugout, introducing himself to the players and shaking hands. A little later, he went into the game, and this being the mid-90’s Mariners of course he had to go in at left field– only his 2nd major-league appearance ever in left field.

  13. Steve on November 26th, 2005 10:12 am

    The last Mariners hitting coach that arguably had a noticeable, positive impact was probably Gerald Perry. Perry’s career line was .265/.333/.376.

    IIRC, Perry was the Pirate’s hitting coach last year, so Manto should be replacing Perry.

  14. Paul B on November 26th, 2005 1:29 pm

    Baylor might have helped Morse last year. Maybe others, I guess we’ll know for sure next year.

  15. Harry on November 26th, 2005 2:41 pm

    No one has commented on the MST3K reference in the post? For shame.

  16. timothy m schmidt on November 26th, 2005 3:46 pm

    Somebody needs to do a bit more research before they open their pie hole and announce that Jeff Pentland has no Major League experience as a hitting coacy. Oh, Contrar…..Jeff has been a Major League hitting coach with the Florida Marlins, where Gary Sheffield called him as good a hitting coach as he had dealt with. Jeff spent five seasons as the Cubs Major League hitting coach where he worked with Sammy Sosa when Sammy had three 60 plus homerun season. Jeff has spent the last couple of seasons with the Kansas City Royals where he worked with Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney. To take it back a bit further, Jeff was the hitting coach at Arizona State and worked with Barry Bonds during his three years in Tempe. A couple of years ago Sports Illustrated ran a poll and Jeff was named the second best hitting instuctor in the Major Leagues, behind only Rudy Jaramillo of the Texas Rangers. Jeff played on a Collegiate National Championship team at Arizona State, and was the hitting coach as well as the pitching coach on two NCAA Division II Championship teams at University of California Riverside. To say that Jeff has no Major League coaching experience is completely irresponsible. I will go on record as saying Jeff Pentland’s hiring will have as much of a positive impact on the Mariners success in 2006 as any Free Agent signing will have. ………….. Timothy Schmidt

  17. ebbnflow on November 26th, 2005 4:20 pm

    That’s cool, Tim. I didn’t know about Pentland’s extensive coaching history!

    However, I believe DMZ was referring to major league experience as a -player-. Note that he compares Jeff with Molitor and Baylor using the framing reference of “they were good as players, but could they -coach- hitting?”.

    Regardless, I like the quotes. Hopefully he can make some inroads, particularly since we have so many young hitters in the lineup…

  18. Jim Thomsen on November 26th, 2005 4:21 pm

    #16: I think what the author meant — though I shouldn’t presume — is that Pentland never played in the majors. Contemplate a switch to decaf, please.

  19. DMZ on November 26th, 2005 5:40 pm

    I thought that was clear enough from the post, where I follow the “no major league experience” with A LONG SECTION ABOUT HOW HIGHLY REGARDED HE IS AS A COACH.

    Holy crap, seriously, read closely or calm down.

  20. Ryan on November 26th, 2005 7:32 pm

    An older bio of Jeff Pentland:

    I don’t know why, but I like that he has a background in biomechanics.

  21. Jim Thomsen on November 26th, 2005 8:22 pm

    I wonder if he was mentored by Earnshaw Cook?

  22. PaulMarrottWeaver on November 26th, 2005 10:24 pm

    Who is a hitting coach that has had success both hitting in the MLB and coaching?
    I find this line of conversation very interesting, because I am a child of the McMillan baseball encyclopedia, and know very little about coaches aside from managers.
    I noticed that good players were rarely good managers, though they frequently landed brief stints at that position – post WWII I should specify.
    Safeco may be to hitting as Coors field is to pitching (to a lesser degree). I’m sure the Rockies probably go through pitching coaches regularly.

  23. G-Man on November 26th, 2005 11:48 pm

    Arggh, my Charlie Lau reference gets taken in the first post. I’ll press on with my favorite part of Jeff Manto’s career, which many readers here undoubtedly remember: The M’s traded minor leaguer Arquimedez Pozo to the Red Sox for Manto, then waived Jeff a month later, whereupon he was picked up … by the Red Sox. Is that what “rent-a-player” means?

    IIRC, getting Manto required trying to pass Luis Sojo through waivers to send him to Tacoma. The Yanks claimed him. The rest is history.

  24. lefty on November 27th, 2005 2:47 pm

    Ahhh yes, the Manto Ray. I remember that it seemed like all he needed was a chance. The Roberto Petagine of that time. Then we traded for him. I was so amped. It seemed like every at bat was a great RBI opportunity. 21 games… 1 HR, 4 RBI.

    I wish him the best.

  25. Melvin Bob on November 27th, 2005 3:25 pm

    Manto is fully qualified to be a hitting coach. I mean, how many coaches do you know had a toy created in their image?

  26. Gregg Lalli on December 11th, 2005 12:24 pm

    I know Jeff Manto personally. He is a great man with a sense of humor and an unbelievable knowledge of baseball and life in general. What you are all forgetting to mention is that Jeff Manto has a bat in Cooperstown for hitting 4 homeruns in 4 consecutive at bats. He is an asset to any team as a coach.