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About Last Night: Kristopher Negrón makes his Mariners debut (again)

It’s like he never left.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners Lindsey Wasson-USA TODAY Sports

Objectively, there was nothing unfamiliar about last night for Mariners first base coach Kristopher Negrón. He put on a professional baseball uniform, like he’s been doing since the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft; he stepped into a Major League dugout prior to a game, like he’s been doing since June 7, 2012 when he made his playing debut with the Cincinnati Reds; and he filled out the lineup card, like he did so many times last year as he guided the Tacoma Rainiers to the Triple-A West title.

Last night he did all of those things. He put on a uniform, he stepped into a Major League dugout, and he filled out a lineup card.

This time, however, he did it as the acting manager of our beloved Seattle Mariners.

With less than five hours left before first pitch, Seattle Times Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish broke the news that Negrón would be filling in as acting manager after our Lord and Savior Scott Servais became the most recent man in the clubhouse to bite the COVID-19 positive dust.

Negrón isn’t the first choice for acting manager if the Head Skip has to miss a game; that’s third base coach Manny Acta. But, in addition to Mitch Haniger, Luis Torrens, Paul Sewald, assistant coach Andy Bissell, and Servais, Acta also tested positive for the virus that’s put our world on hold since March 2020.

Enter Negrón.

The last time #45 made his Mariners debut was on September 3, 2018 against the Baltimore Orioles when he came in to pinch hit for Nelson Cruz. Yes, it’s been that long. Here are the lineups from that game and from last night for comparison:

#tbt to when I had a Ryon Healy shirsey
Was Julio even born when Negrón made his last debut??

Suffice to say our 2022 Seattle Mariners are a far cry from the team that suited up that late summer night. For one, Mitch Haniger is the only person from the original lineup that remains on the squad. That and our hits leader from last night (Frazier) was expected to succeed, unlike our hits leader from the 2018 contest (Maybin) who exceeded expectations, at least on that night. Hell, the stadium doesn’t even have the same name anymore.

This isn’t the same Seattle Mariners Negrón first saw when he stepped into the home dugout at Safeco Field-now-T-Mobile Park several years ago and this isn’t the same Negrón the Seattle Mariners first saw when he walked into his third Major League clubhouse after being traded from the Diamondbacks.

Seattle Mariners Photo Day
Coach Negrón, reporting for duty.
Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

There’s something beautiful about reflecting on the relationship of two parties over time and cherishing the growth both have made apart from one another before they eventually reunite.

Undoubtedly, Negrón’s life looks a little different from the day he made his first debut with the Mariners.

Less than a year after being sent to Seattle, Negrón was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for SS Daniel Castro. Less than four months after that he announced his retirement. Less than a week after that the Mariners brought him back, this time in a front office role as their new assistant to director of player development, Andy McKay. A year later he was named the manager of the Mariners Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers.

Then, in early 2021, he and his wife, Allie, welcomed two new members to the Mariners family and to their little team with the birth of their sons, Gianni and Lorenzo.

Yeah, things have definitely changed.

While Negrón only served in an acting role last night, his trajectory points toward a bright future for the new dad. This won’t be the last time we see him take the helm, no doubt.