SEATTLE, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Oakland Athletics bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been hired to be the manager of the Seattle Mariners.
Wakamatsu, 45, becomes the first Asian-American to manager a U.S. major-league team. His major-league playing experience totaled 18 games as a catcher for the Chicago White Sox in 1991. But he's served as a coach for all four teams in the American League West, including last season as the Oakland bench coach.
"This is a heck of an opportunity and something I've looked forward to for a long time," Wakamatsu told MLB.com before he found out he had been hired. "I feel like I went in and represented myself as a strong candidate.
"It seems like this is a perfect fit for me. Almost like it's something I've been groomed for."
Seattle was 61-101 last season.
Wakamatsu told MLB.cm: "Anyone can come in here and say you're going to win right away, but you have to be realistic to the situation. There's still a lot of work to be done this winter."
Wakamatsu replaces John McLaren, who was fired last June. Jim Riggleman managed the team on an interim basis for the remainder of the 2008 season.