Clean shaven, looking thinner and sounding energized, Seattle manager Eric Wedge was back behind his office desk Friday afternoon
It was far better look than a month ago when Wedge was being helped off the field by team personnel in the midst of suffering a mild stroke.
"I feel great. I feel better than I have in 10 or 15 years," Wedge said before the Mariners opened a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. "I think it was the perfect storm and a lot of things happened that culminated with that episode I had a month ago. So you make some changes to make sure you don’t get back there."
After a month away, Wedge was anxious about getting back on the bench. It was a month filled with doctor’s appointments and meetings, researching and relaxing, with the goal of figuring out why at 45 years old, Wedge suffered a stroke in the first place and how to prevent it from happening again.
It was before the Mariners game on July 22 when Wedge fell ill. Standing behind the cage during batting practice, Wedge first started feeling something wrong in his head, then his legs and his vision. At that point he called for Mariners trainer Rick Griffin, who immediately started helping Wedge off the field. Wedge said by the time he got to the top of the dugout steps he was "dead weight."
Wedge was confused and frustrated at the feeling of having something take over control of his body and not being able to stop it.
"Every step we took further I got a little more upset because I didn’t want that to happen," Wedge said. "Then when I got to the hospital, I knew it was a pretty serious thing."
After a lengthy string of tests it was determine a day later that Wedge had suffered a mild stroke. And then began the process of meeting with doctors and specialists to determine how to prevent a recurrence.
"They made it very clear, they marched them in there one by one before I left the hospital to let me know just how serious this was and how serious I needed to take this," Wedge said. "It’s a shot across the bow, it’s a mulligan, it’s a heads up. And I’m taking it as such."
Wedge has made changes to his diet and made sure to get more exercise. How he handles stress will be an ongoing battle, considering his profession is stressful by nature. Wedge also said he was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which he believes played a big part in what caused the stroke in the first place. Wedge said his oxygen range when sleep was around 80 percent.
"I mentioned that perfect storm this was a big part of that perfect storm in regards to what happened to me," Wedge said.
Seattle went 13-15 while Wedge was away from the club. He stayed in contact with bench coach Robby Thompson, who served as acting manager, and GM Jack Zduriencik throughout the month, but just watched games on TV or listened on the radio.
Wedge intends on staying with the club for the rest of the season and understands he needs to continue with the changes he’s started.
"I never would have thought that I would be able to slow myself down, but when the doctor looks you in the eye and says `slow yourself down or else’ you know he’s not joking about it. And then the next doctor comes in and says the same thing, and the next doctor comes in, you know," Wedge said. "I think when you have intensity and passion and you care so damn much, to a fault maybe, and you’re doing that all day long, eventually it’s going to catch up to you. I think that’s where it ended up with me."