Mariners hire Edgar Martinez as hitting coach

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Well, here’s a surprise: The Mariners announced this afternoon that they have reassigned hitting coach Howard Johnson and hired seven-time All-Star Edgar Martinez as his replacement. Martinez will be in uniform tonight against the Astros, wearing his familiar No. 11.

The Mariners entered today’s action ranked dead-last in the majors in batting average and 28th in runs scored. This is a function of talent more than anything else, but the front office decided that a new voice was needed. You could do a lot worse than Martinez.

Martinez, a .312 lifetime hitter over 18 seasons with the Mariners, has never coached professionally. However, he has been a guest instructor in spring training in the past and recently started helping hitters at Triple-A Tacoma. Here’s what Martinez told Mike Curto of the Tacoma News Tribune earlier this month:

“I had too much time on my hands,” Martinez said with a laugh. “I always wanted to get back to the game. Right now my family is busy, my wife is working, my kids are all in school and they’re old enough where I can travel more. It’s a good time for me to do it.”