Unhappy with the lack of clarity on his future, Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge popped off on Wednesday saying he feels like he’s left ”hanging out there” by the organization regarding his status for 2014.
Wedge’s comments were his first regarding his contract which expires after this season. He originally signed a three-year deal to become Seattle’s manager in 2010 and he indicated there’s been no word given whether he’ll receive a new deal.
”It’s tough. I feel like I’m hanging out there, that’s the reality of it,” Wedge said. ”But I’m coming here and doing my job. You know how passionate I am about this team, and these players in particular, and this organization. The unfortunate part about how it’s being handled is the effect it has on the players. That’s why we’re all here, is for the players.”
Seattle is about to conclude a fourth straight losing season and a step back from the incremental progress the Mariners showed between Year 1 and 2 with Wedge in charge. Wedge’s season was interrupted in July when he suffered a mild stroke and missed a month and the Mariners have stumbled down the stretch since he returned to manage the club in late August.
The Mariners are 10-22 since Wedge returned on Aug. 23.
”I’m a strong man, and I’m going to be fine either way. But I’d like to see this thing through,” Wedge said. ”We’ve done a lot of developing with a lot of young players over three years. I’d like to be here to lead them and turn the corner.”
Wedge’s comments came a day after the team confirmed general manager Jack Zduriencik would return for 2014. Wedge said he believed some conversations regarding his future would take place between Wednesday and the end of the regular season on Sunday but was unsure.
Wedge was brought in to replace Don Wakamatsu – who was fired during the 2010 season – because of the track record he built in Cleveland taking the Indians through a rebuilding process and nearly leading them to the World Series. But the rebuilding never seemed to end in Seattle with a constant influx of young prospects from the minors being called up and some veterans failing to meet expectations.
Wedge is 211-271 in his three seasons as Seattle’s manager. Seattle went from 67 wins in 2011 to 75 last season, but won’t match that total this year.
”We haven’t taken a step back. It’s just the fact we keep bringing up kids. You’re going to continue to make mistakes up here while you’re learning,” Wedge said. ”The forward part of it is we have a lot of kids that are moving forward, and that should pay off for us. But you’re going to have to still add to that. That’s just the way it works.”
Seattle was on the fringes of contention in July, winning eight straight games when Wedge fell ill. He was helped off the field during batting practice on July 22 and getting rushed to a nearby hospital. He was diagnosed with a mild stroke the next day and became a month-long recovery process that called for changes in his diet, exercise and dealing with the stress of his occupation. Robby Thompson filled in while Wedge was out and Seattle went 13-15 during the stretch.
Wedge said using his health as the reason not to bring him back would be unfair.
”My best managing days are ahead of me whether it’s here or somewhere else. I want to be here. I moved my family out here. I’m committed to the community. I’m all in,” he said. ”I haven’t done anything wrong except for come out here and coach up these kids and teach them how to play at the big league level. That’s what I do. I don’t bitch about anything. I’m here to help these kids become good solid big league players and hopefully solid citizens in Seattle. So if that is not enough for them, then so be it.”