Last week, it was reported that Mariner’s Third Base coach Jeff Datz had been diagnosed with an undisclosed type of cancer. Due to this very unfortunate news, he will miss some time in order to pursue treatment options.
Datz released this statement about the situation on April 27th:
Prior to today’s game, Eric Wedge and I met with the team so I could inform them that I have been diagnosed with cancer.
I wanted to let all of you know, as well.
The good news is that it was caught very early, and I have great support from my wife, my family, Eric, the coaches and staff, all the players and the Mariners organization.
I am still in the process of making some treatment decisions, but it is very possible I may have to miss some games. 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.
Once decisions on timing and treatment have been made, I’ll be happy to talk to all of you at once. Until then, I would appreciate your patience as we all focus on baseball.
This is obviously terrible news for Datz, his family, and everyone else who knows him. Cancer is an awful part of life, and it sucks that it is so common. But as Datz said, it was caught very early, and he has a lot of support around him, so we should all be hopeful for his recovery.
In response to Datz’s absence, the team had to decide who was going to step in for the time being. At first, people were saying that it would be the organization’s Minor League catching director John Sterns. However, it has now been confirmed that it will instead be Triple-A manager Daren Brown who will join the M’s coaching staff as a third base coach, with Sterns filling his shoes as the Rainier’s manager.
Most of you probably remember Daren Brown from his time as the interim manager following the firing of Don Wakamatsu in 2010. Brown has been with the Mariner’s organization since 2000, including the last 6 years as the manager down in Tacoma. I, and I would assume most fans, do not know too much about Brown’s managing style, since he was only up here for a brief time. But his longevity — both in the system as a whole and as the AAA skipper — certainly speaks well to his knowledge and ability as a manager.
Many of us have been frustrated with Wedge’s managerial decisions, particularly his lack of consistency when creating the lineups, and ability to evaluate talent (see Robert Andino as starting SS, and Raul Ibanez as member of the team period). And if this team bombs again this season, both he, and GM Jack Zduriencik, could both be out of a job at season’s end. Brown would no doubt be towards the top of the list in looking for a replacement, and this choice demonstrates that.
It seems a little odd on the surface that a manager is being called up as a base coach fill-in, which could disrupt everything the Rainiers have been doing. You would think that a less-important coach would be removed from his normal spot as to create as little distraction as possible. But the fact that they went with Brown, to me at least, suggests that Wedge may have some competition for his job, and the organization wants to see how Brown handles things at the big league level. And if all goes well/to hell depending on how you look at it, Brown could be running things in Seattle by the end of the season.