A day after announcing that he had no intention of returning to manage the Seattle Mariners next season, Eric Wedge wanted to clarify a few things about why he was leaving.
On Saturday, Wedge said the one-year contract extension offered by the Mariners had nothing to do with his decision to leave, despite general manager Jack Zduriencik dropping hints to the contrary.
“Let me be clear here, the contract was not the reason I’m not coming back here,” Wedge said. “If they offered me a 5-year contract, I wouldn’t have come back here. OK. So let’s be clear on that.
“Where they see the club – they being (CEO) Howard (Lincoln), (president) Chuck (Armstrong) and Jack – and where I see the club and my vision of the future is just different. That’s as plain as I can make it.”
Wedge offered up his opinion about the direction the ballclub should take.
“It’s just about sticking with the kids you believe in, adding to it, being patient and sticking to the program,” Wedge said. “And having consistency. You have to have consistency of personnel. Every time you turn over, you start over again to a certain extent.”
Sources said that management wanted Wedge to make some changes to his coaching staff, which he was adamantly against. That was also a factor in his decision to not return.
As for what the front office sees as the Mariners’ future, Wedge wouldn’t offer an opinion.
“I’m not going to get into that, you’ll have to ask them,” he said.
On Friday, Zduriencik said that he and Wedge had the same vision of the future, the only difference was the contract. Wedge shrugged off that notion.
“Yeah, well, that’s not the case,” he said. “Like I said, it’s not because of the contract. It’s because of how they see things and how I see things.”
One of the factors may have been his control over the roster and daily lineups, which may not have been as autonomous as it seemed.
Wedge certainly doesn’t think he was allowed the certain amount of control teams usually offer to a veteran manager.
“ Not to the extent I would have liked,” he said.
MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS
Before Saturday’s game, the Mariners handed out the organization’s minor league awards for the 2013 season. Slick-fielding shortstop Chris Taylor was named Player of the Year. Taylor, 23, hit .314 (165-for-525) with 108 runs scored, 28 doubles, 11 triples, eight home runs, 60 RBI, 84 walks and 38 stolen bases in 134 combined games between Double-A Jackson and Class-A High Desert.
Taijuan Walker, who was called up to the Mariners in September, was named Starting Pitcher of the Year. Walker, 21, split his minor league season between Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, posting a combined 9-10 record and 2.93 ERA while averaging 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings (160 strikeouts) over 25 starts.
Carson Smith, a side-arm-throwing right-hander for Jackson was Relief Pitcher of the Year. Smith, 23, went 1-3 with 15 saves and a 1.80 ERA in 44 relief appearances. After giving up five runs in his first six relief appearances to start the season, Smith allowed only five earned runs over his last 38 games.
Outfielder Abraham Almonte, also called up to Seattle in September, received the Heart and Soul Award for Exemplary Play and Leadership.
Almonte hit .300 (132-for-440) with 23 doubles, six triples, 15 home runs, 68 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 123 combined games with Jackson and Tacoma.
Bob Robertson, the longtime radio broadcaster for Washington State football, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Robertson, who has lived in University Place for more than 30 years, said: “At least it didn’t bounce.” … Abraham Almonte went 0-for-3 and saw his streak of getting on base snapped at 18 games.
The Seattle closes out the season with at a 1:10 p.m. game Sunday. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (5-2, 4.56 ERA) is expected to go against Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray (4-3, 2.90 ERA). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 770-AM.