Mariners third base coach John Stearns, sidelined since undergoing surgery for a hiatal hernia, informed the club he is stepping down from his position. Manager Lloyd McClendon has agreed to a re-assignment of Stearns to the scouting department.
“I am not physically able to perform the role of third base coach yet, and it appears that I will not be able to perform the job until the middle of April,” Stearns said. “It is not fair to the organization, to Lloyd or to the players for me to expect to jump back in after not being able to participate in the bulk of spring training. Instead, I have asked (GM Jack Zduriencik) to re-assign me within the organization, and he has agreed to do so.
“I think this decision is in the best interest of the Mariners. I don’t want to be a distraction, and I don’t want the players to have to deal with a change-up just as their season is starting.”
After arriving in Arizona for spring training, Stearns suffered discomfort in his upper abdomen. An exam resulted in the diagnosis of a hiatal hernia.
Stearns underwent surgery Feb. 24 at Arrowhead Hospital. The laparoscopic repair was performed by Dr. Jamison Foster, and Stearns has been out of camp since.
Rich Donnelly, a veteran of 27 seasons as a major league coach, including 14 years as a third base coach, will be promoted from AAA Tacoma to coach third base. Donnelly coached third for Pittsburgh (1993-95), Florida (1997-98), Colorado (1999-2002), Milwaukee (2003-2005) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2006 and 2007).
Donnelly was hired by Seattle to manage the Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. The Mariners have yet to name Donnelly’s replacement.