Brosius doing his job
SEATTLE — It didn't take Scott Brosius long to move from a nondescript position into the eye of the storm in the Seattle Mariners organization.
Now in his third season with the Mariners, Brosius has gone from assistant coach at Triple-A Tacoma in 2016 to hitting coach with Seattle in 2017 to third-base coach with the big club this season.
Suddenly, thousands of fans have their eyes on the job Brosius is doing.
"Coaching third is like umpiring," the Putnam High grad and former Linfield player and coach says. "Your goal is to go unnoticed. If you do that, you're probably making the right decisions. They only notice you when things go wrong."
Things have gone mostly right for Brosius, who turns 52 on Aug. 15, since he left his post as Linfield's head coach in 2015 to join the Mariners. The former major league third baseman went 270-96 in eight years as head coach at his alma mater, winning the NCAA Division III championship in 2013 and reaching the finals in '14. After Jerry DiPoto was named as Seattle's general manager after the 2015 season, he brought Brosius into the organization.
Brosius is a name major league fans recognize. He played 11 years in the big leagues with Oakland and New York, helping the Yankees win three straight World Series championships from 1998-2000. He was on top of the world in '98, when he hit .300 with 19 homers and 98 RBIs through the regular season, then claimed the trophy as World Series MVP.
After retiring following the 2001 campaign, Brosius returned to McMinnville, where he, wife Jennifer and their three children had made their offseason home for many years.
"I didn't retire with a specific, 'This is where I hope to be in 10 or 15 years,'" Brosius says. "But it didn't take long before I realized I wasn't going to stay away from the game. It's just too much in my blood."
Brosius served as a volunteer assistant at Linfield under his college coach — Scott Carnahan — from 2002-06, then flipped with Carnahan, taking over the program in 2007.
"It was great balance for me, to be able to coach at Linfield all those years, but still be at home in McMinnville with the kids and in my own bed," Brosius says. Then came the offer from the Mariners.
"Being in the college ranks for so long, you don't know if that professional opportunity would be there," Brosius says. "With the kids out of the house, it was a good time to get in it if I was going to try it."
Brosius spent only a year coaching in the minors before the call-up to serve on manager Scott Servais' staff in Seattle.
"I've enjoyed the process of being in different roles," Brosius says. "Last year, I worked primarily with the hitters. You're in the cage. You're with the guys all the time. You're building relationships with them. You're in the trenches with them as they swing the bat. When they struggle, you struggle. I enjoyed that."
When Servais offered what was, in effect, a promotion this season, Brosius embraced the new role. It's the first time, however, he has coached third base. Brosius always coached from the dugout at Linfield.
"It felt good they trusted me with this job," he says. "They knew I'd work real hard to get a handle on it. Spring training was important. I was probably the only guy in camp who wanted all 30 games. I needed every game to get to know our runners, to get a feel for positioning and those sorts of things.
"I've really enjoyed it. I like the idea of having a role during the game. As hitting coach, once the game starts, your day is pretty much over. Now, I'm involved in decision-making on the field."
Servais appreciates the work Brosius has done.
"Coaching third is a hard job," the third-year Mariners manager says. "Scott has done an outstanding job getting the signs from me to relay to the players, and with decision-making on the field. Game situations, where we're at in the lineup — a lot of things figure into it, and everything happens very fast. But I've been really happy with him. He and Chris (Prieto, the first-base coach) have done a really good job on the bases."
The Mariners (57-34 through Monday) have been one of the surprise teams of major-league baseball this season after going a disappointing 78-84 in 2017.
"Winning is fun," Brosius shrugs. "Last year, we felt like we had a good team going in, but we had so many injuries, it was hard to get things on track. This year, we've had some injuries, but it's been a strong, resilient group. They've continued to play well. The thing that's impressed me is how the guys have a fight about them. In the games we lose, you have to play 27 outs to beat us."
Would Brosius like to manage in the big leagues?
"I mull that over," he says. "I've always taken things year to year. There are things I love about what I'm doing right now. Would I love managing more or less? I'm not sure.
"There are things I loved about the college side, too. You get to impact kids. You're like the GM and the manager. Right now, I'll continue to do this and see where it goes."
Brosius has kept his home in McMinnville, choosing to rent a place in Seattle.
"It has worked out great," he says. "When I'm in Seattle, Jennifer is here. When we go on the road, she goes back home. It's an easy drive. Last week, we had a day game before an off day. We drove home after the Sunday game and had Sunday night and Monday at home. I played golf Monday (at Michelbook Country Club) and drove back to Seattle Tuesday morning."
Brosius' two daughters, Allison and Megan, are married and live in the Northwest — Allison in Myrtle Point, Megan in Port Angeles, Washington. The youngest child, David, is at Linfield after transferring from Oregon State. A left-handed pitcher, David underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2017, then had a second surgical procedure done a month ago to "move the nerve," his father says. "His goal is to get back on the field next year" for the Wildcats.
Brosius retains warm feelings for McMinnville.
"It's still home," he says. "It was a tough decision to leave Linfield. My roots there are pretty deep. I felt like if there were going to be a time to test the waters professionally — I wasn't getting any younger — now is the time. I'm really enjoying this, but I love the college game, and Linfield is a place that's dear to me."