By Zach James Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — It’s not even Opening Day, and the Clinton LumberKings are on their second manager of the season.
Personnel changes are common during the offseason, and the Seattle Mariners front office wanted to make another switch.
The new manager for the LumberKings this season is a familiar face — Scott Steinmann. Steinmann spent the 2009 season in Clinton, where he went 69-68. Steinmann has spent three seasons in the Mariners’ farm system, and he was anticipating being the hitting coach for the Everett AquaSox.
“We’ve got ourselves another manager, and this kind of thing happens,” LumberKings general manager Ted Tornow said. “It’s a little tough to adjust before the season, but we’ll be fine.
“Scott knows the ropes, he’s been here before, so it’s not as big of an issue,” Tornow added.
The LumberKings don’t have much time to adjust as their first game of the season is next Thursday at Cedar Rapids. Clinton’s home opener is April 8 against Lake County.
Steinmann agreed that there is not much time to adjust, but he isn’t going to worry about making the swift adjustment of returning to Clinton.
“They know I’ve been there; they know I’ve managed before,” Steinmann said in a telephone interview from Arizona. “They asked if I could fill it, and this organization has been really good to me, and really loyal to me, so I wanted to show my loyalty back by coming back.”
With rosters not being set yet in Mariners camp, the only things Steinmann needs to organize at this point are his own belongings.
“I didn’t have some things ready personally,” Steinmann said. “I have to cram in some household items and some errands to run before we get up there, but that’s really the only thing on my table I would have to be prepared for.”
Steinmann said rosters should be set in stone before the weekend, but he’s been keeping an eye on some players he believes will start the season in Clinton.
“They’re playing really hard, putting in some great effort,” Steinmann said. “There are some guys who are having a really good camp, and some who are just OK right now, but we’ll have more figured out once the Mariners set their roster and the rest of the minor league teams do as well.”
Once everyone finds out who is assigned where, those who are coming to Clinton will arrive Tuesday night with the anticipation of having a night workout, followed by another workout that next day before starting the season in Cedar Rapids for a four-game series.
Steinmann is excited to return to Clinton, see the people in the community and pay a visit to all the “mom-and-pop” restaurants in the area.
“What I will probably do everyday, is find a little breakfast place downtown,” Steinmann said. “I’m a big breakfast person. I love going out to eat and reading the paper or a book, or getting my lineup set for that day.”
During the 2009 season when Steinmann was at the helm, the LumberKings finished seventh in the Midwest League. They had a team batting average of .253 that season, attained 1,162 hits and drove in 553 runs, all middle-of-the-road statistics in the Midwest League. Last season, Clinton led the league in team average (.268) and hits (1,244).
Chris Prieto was named the Clinton manager back in January after spending the 2013 season in Pulaski, where he won the Appalachian League title. Many LumberKings fans were hoping Prieto would bring that mojo to Ashford University Field, but Prieto had an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Prieto is now the Quality Control Coach for the Mariners. He gets to travel with the team but does not get to be in uniform.
Prieto will serve as the liaison between the Mariners advance scouting staff, manager Lloyd McClendon and the big league coaches.
“Chris will give us another tool in our bag as we take the information we receive from our video advance scouting group and apply it to our day-to-day needs on the field,” McClendon said in a Mariners-issued news release.