Former Sun Devil named manager of Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik announced today that Don Wakamatsu has been named the new manager of the ballclub. Per club policy, no contract details were announced.
Wakamatsu played at Arizona State from 1982 to 1985. He becomes the first former Sun Devil player to be named a Major League manager. He hit .314 during his four seasons in maroon and gold, earning First Team All-Pac-10 honors three straight years.
"When I started this process, there were some key attributes we were looking for," Zduriencik said. "We wanted energy, a passion and the skills to translate that passion to the players. We wanted leadership, a presence that could help us as we define the `Mariners Way' to win. We wanted someone that both the community and the players could embrace. We wanted someone who sees the big picture and cares about the players and wants to win. Don embodies all of those traits."
Wakamatsu, 45, is the 14th full-time manager in Mariners history. A veteran of six seasons as a big league coach, he will make his Major League managerial debut with Seattle in 2009. He becomes the first Asian American to be named a manager in the Major Leagues.
"This is something I've looked forward to for a long time," Wakamatsu said. "It is a tremendous opportunity and I can't wait to get going with Jack and his group as we start working on the 2009 team."
A former catcher, Wakamatsu has spent most of his coaching career in the American League West. He has spent the last six seasons as a big league coach, including the 2008 season as bench coach for the Oakland A's. Last season was his fifth overall as a bench coach in the Majors. Prior to joining Oakland, he coached with the Texas Rangers from 2003-07, spending four seasons (2003-06) as bench coach for Buck Showalter. He moved to the third base coaches box under new manager Ron Washington in 2007. While with Texas, Wakamatsu also worked closely with the Rangers catching corps.
Wakamatsu also spent three seasons (2000-02) in the Angels player development system, the last two (2001-02) as minor league coordinator and roving catching instructor.
Wakamatsu managed for four seasons in the minor leagues, including being named California League Manager of the Year in 1998 with High Desert. Wakamatsu joined the Angels system as the manager at Erie (AA) in the Eastern League in 2000. That followed three years (1997-99) as a manager in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. His 1999 El Paso club featured several future Major Leaguers, including Rod Barajas, Erubiel Durazo, Junior Spivey, Brad Penny and John Patterson. He led the High Desert Mavericks (high-A) to the Cal League playoffs in 1998, posting a 44-26 second half mark on his way to being named the league's manager of the year. Don started his managing career with Peoria (rookie) in the Arizona Summer League in 1997.
Wakamatsu's playing career included 12 years, spread among seven organizations, from 1985-1996. He closed out his playing career as a player/coach with Seattle's AA Port City affiliate in 1996. He also played one game with Tacoma (AAA) that year. He had also served as a player/coach with Canton-Akron in the Cleveland farm system in 1995 after starting the season with nine games in Tacoma.
Don played 18 games in the Major Leagues, making 9 starts, with the 1991 Chicago White Sox. All nine of his starts came with knuckleballer Charlie Hough on the mound.
Wakamatsu and his wife, Laura, have three children: Jacob, Lucas and Jadyn. The Hood River, OR, native currently resides in North Richland Hills, TX. Wakamatsu caught for four seasons at Arizona State University, and was named All-Pac-10 his final three seasons. He was the Sun Devils team captain his senior year (1985) and was drafted that June by the Cincinnati Reds.