The Seattle bench coach was named to take over for Mike Hargrove.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — John McLaren had a rough night after Sunday’s bombshell announcement made him manager of the Seattle Mariners.
“I didn’t go to sleep,” he said Monday, shortly before the Mariners launched the McLaren era with a night game in Kansas City.
“It’s been a whirlwind. It was a rollercoaster emotionally.”
Riding a seven-game winning streak, Mike Hargrove stunned the Mariners and all of baseball Sunday when he resigned, saying he’d lost the passion for the game that he’d always demanded of himself and his players. The Mariners, many brimming with emotion, went out and beat Toronto to stretch their winning streak to eight in his last game. Then they got on a plane and headed for Missouri.
“When this thing all came about I was blindsided. I didn’t know what to say to [Hargrove],” McLaren said. “I’ve always got advice for him and I didn’t have any advice for him. I tried to talk him out of it. He just shook his head and smiled at me and said, ‘You’re not going to do it. I’ve been thinking about this for two weeks and it’s not going to happen.’ ”
The Mariners, after talking with the veteran bench coach, said McLaren would be the new manager without using the “interim” label.
Hasn’t sunk in yet
Sitting on the bench in the visitors dugout, surrounded by reporters, McLaren said the reality of the past 24 hours had finally begun to sink in.
“It’s calmed down quite a bit. I was in shock when it happened. I think the realization has set over now and my thoughts and my efforts are to win the game tonight,” he said. “That’s all I care about.”
In his first major decision as a manager, he chose to move Mike Goff from first base coach to bench coach.
And in an emotional pregame meeting with the players, he assured them he planned no major changes in a team that has fought to within four games of the Angels in the AL West.
“It was kind of a private talk. But this is about them. It’s not about me,” he said. “I just want them to keep playing as a ball club. I let them know there was a concern on my part about Mike Hargrove. I wasn’t comfortable in the beginning and it wasn’t something I jumped up and said, ‘Yeah, give me the job’ when it was offered to me. It had to be right.”
It didn’t feel right, he said, until he got a reassuring hug from Hargrove’s wife of 37 years.
“Talking to Mike made me feel good. But after the game Saturday night, I walked by Mike’s office,” he said. “I looked at Sharon Hargrove and she looked at me and she walked over and gave me a hug. And she had tears in her eyes.”
McLaren bowed his head and took a moment to compose himself. When he raised his face to address the reporters standing over him, his eyes were red and his voice quavered slightly.
“And she thanked me for doing a good job for Mike,” he said. “She knew I was going to do a good job and she knew I was the right person for the job and she said, ‘Mike and I really appreciated how hard you worked for him.’
“And she gave me a hug. Coming from her, I felt that made it right.”