SEATTLE -- To a man, Mariners hitters expressed regret that their performance led to the dismissal of Howard Johnson as the team's hitting coach Saturday. But there was no hiding the excitement over the arrival of Mariners legend Edgar Martinez as the man they'd now be working with on a daily basis as his replacement.
"He's going to help us a lot," said Robinson Cano, whose struggles have contributed largely to the team ranking last in the American League in scoring and batting average. "He's the kind of guy that, whatever he thinks, I'm going to listen. He was one of the best hitters in the game. It's a pleasure and I'm blessed to have a guy like him as a hitting coach."
Martinez wasted no time getting to work. Catcher Mike Zunino, batting just .160 going into Saturday's game with the Astros, already received some hands-on instruction.
"I went down [to the cages] just to get some early work in and he was there and explained what he liked to do and his thought process on hitting," Zunino said. "He talked about how much he enjoys working off the tee and fine-tuning your swing and developing that repetitive swing and we just did about 20 minutes off the tee with him, putting balls in places I didn't think I could get to and hitting line drives off of it. I'm just looking forward to working with him from here on out."
Third baseman Kyle Seager acknowledged it was a tough day in many respects.
"HoJo was a special guy and he worked really hard for us," Seager said. "I think everybody was sad to hear he wasn't going to be with us anymore. But bringing in Edgar, there's definitely a level of excitement there. The guy obviously had an amazing career. Anytime you were a student of the game the way he was, there's going to be a lot of knowledge."
Seager said he'd already picked Martinez's brain about hitting in prior meetings.
"I've talked to him a few times about his approach and different things he did mechanically," Seager said. "He's taught me quite a few things and a couple things I've never thought of in the past. So I'm definitely excited to be able to work with him more."
Veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist met Martinez in Bloomquist's first Major League camp in 2000 and played with Martinez from 2002-04.
"He taught me a lot as a young guy about how to be a professional and how to go about things," Bloomquist said. "And there were times when I'd be in a little bit of a funk and say, 'Hey, Gar, what you got on this?' and just know he would give me one simple thing that would seem to fix everything.
"Right now would be a good time to have that simple thing to get me fixed," Bloomquist said with a smile. "I'm excited to have him around."
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.
Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.