Seattle expected to tab Wakamatsu

Seattle expected to tab Wakamatsu

SEATTLE -- The new manager of the Mariners is Don Wakamatsu, a Major League source has confirmed to A Mariners spokesman wouldn't confirm or deny the hiring but said there will be an announcement at Safeco Field on Wednesday.

News of Wakamatsu's hiring was first reported by KING-TV and the Seattle Times.

Wakamatsu, 45, served as the bench coach for the Oakland A's last year and is new general manager Jack Zduriencik's choice over six other candidates: Boston Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills and third-base coach DeMarlo Hale; Arizona Diamondbacks third-base coach Chip Hale; St. Louis Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo; Chicago White Sox bench coach and former Mariners infielder Joey Cora, and Randy Ready, the manager of Portland, the San Diego Padres' affiliate in Triple-A.

"This is a heck of an opportunity and something I've looked forward to for a long time," Wakamatsu said Monday, before he found out he had been hired. "I feel like I went in and represented myself as a strong candidate.

"It seems like this is a perfect fit for me. Almost like it's something I've been groomed for."

Wakamatsu, a former Major League catcher who played in 18 games for the Chicago White Sox in 1991, doesn't have big league managing experience, but he has worked for all four teams in the American League West. He becomes the first Asian-American to manage in the Majors.

Wakamatsu played Minor League ball in the Seattle organization and coached in the Angels system before joining the Texas Rangers staff as Buck Showalter's bench coach in 2003. Wakamatsu interviewed for the Rangers' managerial opening in 2006, losing out to former A's third-base coach Ron Washington, and spent the 2007 season coaching third base in Texas.

Wakamatsu is well-respected throughout the game for his preparation, something that didn't go unnoticed in Oakland last year.

"Wak's a really impressive guy, as a person and as a baseball man," A's third baseman Eric Chavez told "Whenever you talk to him, you get the sense that he really knows everything about the game and what goes on inside the game."

Wakamatsu takes over the reins of a team that finished last in the AL West in 2008, compiling a 61-101 record. But he knows the Mariners' personnel from his time in the division and says he believes the team has talent and potential.

"Anyone can come in here and say you're going to win right away, but you have to be realistic to the situation," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done this winter."

Doug Miller is a reporter for National writer Mychael Urban contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.