ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Seattle manager Eric Wedge could return to the dugout during the Mariners’ next homestand, acting manager Robby Thompson said Thursday.
The Mariners have six games to play on their current trip, meaning Wedge could return next Friday, when the Los Angeles Angels visit Safeco Field.
“There’s a real good chance that he will join us when we get back,” Thompson said. “As it stands right now, I’m not 100 percent sure on that, but that’s kind of what we’re hoping. He sounds great. Each and every day, he’s feeling better. He’s following all the rules and guidelines that he should be doing. He’s determined to get through this thing and get back in it and continue where he left off.”
It isn’t yet certain if Wedge, who on July 22 suffered what was called a mild stroke, will immediately return to full managerial duties.
“We talked briefly about it,” Thompson said. “I’m sure with the doctors and all, they’re trying to come up with a game plan, not only through them, but for himself as far as easing back into it. We’ll talk again in Texas and then in Oakland. It’s off of what Eric wants to do. We’ll have an answer to that before he comes back on the homestand.”
Thompson and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon each said they hadn’t had much chance Thursday to study the proposal that would allow major league managers to challenge calls on everything but balls and strikes and checked swings next season.
However, neither expressed any problem with the concept of challenges.
“It’s like the (current home run rule),” Thompson said. “If you want them to go to review it, you challenge them to review it.”
Maddon didn’t like the implications of allowing one challenge over the first six innings and two over the final three.
“I just don’t like the idea that the earlier part of the game is considered less important than the latter part of the game. … It’s very difficult for me to try to tell you what’s going to be the most significant moment in that game in regards to an umpire’s decision,” Maddon said. “But having said all that, of course I’m into it, because I think it’s better than not having those things.”
Thompson expressed concern that the challenges could stretch the length of games. Maddon said he never worries about game length and suggested the new rule could shorten games.
“I don’t anticipate this being a lengthy thing,” he said. “And also it’s going to be a lot less lengthy than me going out there and arguing and then not being satisfied and staying out there a little bit longer.”
After three games against Tampa Bay — the second-place team in the American League East — the Mariners continue their trip against a couple of other teams with pennant aspirations: Texas (Friday through Sunday) and Oakland (Monday through Wednesday).
“They have their goals, we have our goals: That’s just try to come out here and win as many games as we can, no matter who we play,” Thompson said. “But yeah, this is a tough road trip. It’s a big test for us.” …
The Rays had an unusual clubhouse visitor Thursday: a 20-foot python Maddon had invited over from Busch Gardens in Tampa. “2013 happens to be the Year of the Snake on the Chinese calendar,” Maddon said. “It’s representative of risk-taking and creative thinking — the 2013 Year of the Snake. …
“I thought it fit in perfectly with what we’re trying to do around here. Again, I thought coming off the West Coast trip (the Rays went 0-5 against Arizona and the L.A. Dodgers), the guys were a little bit uptight about things. We needed to loosen things up, and what better way to do that than with a 20-foot python?”
The Mariners open a three-game series at Texas with a game at 5:05 p.m. Friday. The probable pitching matchup is Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 3.02 ERA) against left-hander Derek Holland (9-6, 3.07). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.
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