The Mariners brought up Tacoma Rainiers manager Daren Brown as third-base coach to fill in for Jeff Datz, who is undergoing treatment for cancer. John Stearns, the franchise’s minor league catching coordinator who had handled duties for three games, will take over as Rainiers manager immediately.
Mariners players were told at a Saturday meeting of Datz’s diagnosis by the coach and manager Eric Wedge. Datz, 53, released a statement to the media saying he is considering treatment options and would comment later.
“It is very possible I may have to miss some games,” Datz said. “I do not want my absence to be a distraction to the team, which is why I am letting everyone know my situation now. Having said that, I am not yet ready to speak about this with the media.”
Datz has had episodes of skin cancer for years. He frequently wore layers of clothing at spring training to protect himself.
“He’s going to beat this,” said Wedge, who worked together with Datz in Cleveland. “We’ve all experienced cancer in some way, shape or form. It’s something he’s been dealing with, we’ve all (coaches) been dealing with for a couple of weeks and he felt like it was the right time to announce it to the team.
“He’s touched a lot of people throughout the country over the years. I’m sure they’re going to all reach out to him and give him their total support.”
Brown will join the Mariners, who have won consecutive series for the first time this season, Friday in Toronto.
Brown managed the Rainiers (Pacific Coast League) for the past seven seasons, and has 15 seasons of minor league managing overall with a career record of 948-856 (.525). Brown has been with the Mariners organization for 13 of the 15 seasons.
The Rainiers are atop the PCL North Division with a 17-10 mark, including winning their last eight games. A Holdenville, OK., native, Brown became the all-time leader in managerial wins in Tacoma franchise history last season when he notched his 376th victory May 28 vs. Tucson.
He led the Rainiers to back-to-back divisional titles in 2009 and 2010, including winning the PCL Championship in 2010. In 2010, Brown also served the Mariners interim manager for the final 40 games of the 2010 season (19-31).