The Mariners announced Monday afternoon that they have hired Trent Jewett to be new Manager Lloyd McClendon’s bench coach in Seattle. The Nationals had granted Seattle permission over the weekend to interview Jewett, who had also interviewed for Washington’s managerial vacancy last month but lost out to Matt Williams.
McClendon, who was named Seattle’s manager last week, was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager from 2001 to 2005, and Jewett was the third base coach from midway through the 2000 season through the end of the 2002 season. After Williams was hired in Washington, Jewett was expected to return as third base coach. But as soon as McClendon was hired, the Mariners, who lost 91 games in 2013, quickly targeted Jewett.
“The biggest and most obvious reason to me is because I have a relationship with Lloyd McClendon,” said Jewett in a phone interview on Monday afternoon, after returning to his home in Dallas following the interview and accepting the position. “I think he’s going to be the right fit in Seattle. He was persuasive. And our relationship will be further enhanced. I look forward to to all the challenges.”
Jewett, 49, was a well-respected coach in the Nationals clubhouse. He had been in the organization since 2009 after a career spent with the Pirates as a minor league catcher, minor league manager and big league coach. Before he was hired by the Nationals, Baseball America named Jewett one of the most promising big league managing prospects in the minors.
Jewett managed Class A Potomac in 2009 before the Nationals bumped him to Class AAA Syracuse in 2010. He joined the Nationals’ coaching staff in 2011 as an extra coach, primarily working with infielders. He was the first base coach in 2012 and shifted to third last season. Players liked working with Jewett, who has a stern disposition but an easygoing manner.
“This was a difficult decision,” Jewett said. “It’s tough because the Nationals are a great organization. I love the people within. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Mike Rizzo and the people that surround him and the players. … I was looking forward to the 2014 season with the Nationals. The rest of it transpired quickly. I’m a Seattle Mariner now.”
This will be Jewett’s first experience as a major league bench coach. He didn’t see it necessarily as a stepping stone to being a major league manager, which some in baseball circles believe he is headed towards in the future. “It is a new challenge,” he said. Jewett said he has had only limited conversations with Williams, but thinks highly of him and the Nationals’ managerial choice.
“I know Mike did a lot of homework and I respect the decision-making and the process, which I and others went through,” Jewett said. “I’m sure it’ll be a tremendous fit. They hired the guy they think is best suited for the situation. Matt obviously had a tremendous playing career and the times we played them I thought he was a tremendous third base coach. I bet the transition will be smooth and clean.”
The Nationals will now have a coaching vacancy to fill. At the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo wasn’t prepared to name a replacement yet. It does not appear, however, that it will be Tony Beasley, the Class AAA Syracuse Manager and former big league third base coach.