The Seattle Mariners’ clubhouse was unusually quiet Wednesday.
Perhaps, it was the hangover of a 13-2 pounding the night before that prompted a closed-door, players-only meeting.
Maybe it was the day-to-day grind of the final month of a long, losing season.
Just as likely it was the absence of Brendan Ryan, the talkative and affable shortstop who was traded to the New York Yankees about an hour before Tuesday’s game against the Astros. Ryan was in New York on Wednesday night, starting at shortstop in place of Derek Jeter, who had been shut down for the rest of the season because of an ankle injury.
“It will be a little more quiet around here I guess,” Justin Smoak said. “But good for him. He’s going to get a chance to play every day, and we wish him the best.”
Ryan brought a unique personality to the team. It was a mixture of youthful enthusiasm and stinging self-criticism. His teammates found it amusing more than annoying. He was entertaining without trying to be.
“He definitely brought a different dynamic to the team,” said Brad Miller, the rookie who replaced him as the starting shortstop. “It might be a little quieter around here. It was purely genuine with him. He was a great guy and teammate to be around.”
It was evident in the way Ryan handled losing his starting job to Miller on June 28. Ryan never complained. He wasn’t a clubhouse problem. Instead, he worked daily with Miller, teaching him how to play shortstop at the big league level.
“I thought Ryan handled it like a pro,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “When you talk about young kids coming up and taking playing time from you, it’s something that you’ve got to handle one way or the other. And I thought he handled it the right way. Not only that, he was working to try and help those guys. That’s says a lot about him.”
Before most games during batting practice, Ryan was with Miller at shortstop, teaching and demonstrating.
“He’s very passionate,” Miller said. “That’s the number one factor why he’s performed so well there, because he cares about it. And that speaks to me. If you put the effort in, then good stuff will happen.”
Ryan struggled to hit over .200, something that bothered him immensely. He knew he wasn’t a .300 hitter but thought he was better than a sub-.200 hitter.
“I think it wore at him a lot,” Dustin Ackley said. “I don’t know if it wore at him more when he was playing every day or when he wasn’t. I know when he wasn’t playing every day, it would be like – this is (a) game I’ve got to do something or else I’m not going to get another chance for six or seven days.”
Wedge was aware that the players called a closed-door meeting after Tuesday night’s loss and had no problem with it.
“I think it’s good,” he said. “When players take responsibility for each other and for themselves, I think it says a great deal.”
Wedge thought the willingness to call a meeting this late in the season was a good thing, although he wasn’t interested in what they discussed.
“I think it says more to have one with two-plus weeks left,” he said. “They know every game means something. Whether you are in the race or out of the race, every game means something.
“I don’t know what they talked about. It’s between them, and I respect that.”
Details of the meeting were unclear, but it appeared to be mostly about playing games with more focus and attention to detail than the team has shown in the last few weeks.
“Everything that needed to be said, was said,” Kyle Seager said. “It was definitely a good thing.”
But can the players put the message into action?
“I hope we can finish strong and show the flashes we showed in July, when we were on a pretty good streak – that team is still there,” Miller said. “I hope we take it to heart.”
Outfielder Abraham Almonte was out of the lineup as a precaution after he suffered stiffness in his legs. … Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, who was awarded the Medal of Honor earlier this year, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Mariners are off Thursday before traveling to St. Louis for the start a three-game series. The first game starts at 5:15 p.m. Friday.