New manager Eric Wedge is one of those articulate, high-energy guys who can throw an arm around you and convince you what he really wanted his whole life was to uproot his wife and children and move them across country to settle in the Northwest.
Turns out, it's a pitch he's throwing to everyone - including his hometown newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the News-Sentenial.
Wedge will spend part of the final week before reporting to Arizona with the Seattle Mariners flying to Fort Wayne for a sports banquet and an annual one-day baseball clinic he hosts. Yes, he's that kind of guy. Still, when columnist Reggie Hayes caught up with Wedge last week by telephone, he got a whole lot of Mariners.
Like what? Like this:
- “Everybody's real excited,” Wedge said. “This is a special part of the country, the Pacific Northwest. We're 1,000 miles away from the next big-league club. It's a fantastic city, alive and full of energy.”
- “When you have Felix and Ichiro on your team, that's a pretty good base to start. Jack (Zduriencik, general manager) has done a good job in the draft in the time he's been here. There's talent in the organization and we're bringing some kids to camp this year with a real opportunity to make the big-league roster and get their careers on track.”
- "Our ballpark is cutting edge, 10 plus years in, I'm still amazed when I look at that park. I'm really pleased, couldn't be happier, with my coaching staff. Everything we wanted, we got and I know that's going to make a difference. My relationship with Jack is off to a tremendous start, we're working well together. It's time to go to Arizona.”
And finally, there's this, on how wife Kate and the kids are adjusting to life on Mercer Island.
“The more we dig into it, the more time we spend out here, the more excited we get,” Wedge said. “The geography, it's a long way from home. But this part of the country is great for Kate and the kids, and being with the Mariner family and what they stand for. They have a short history, getting started in 1977. The fan base is hungry, ownership is hungry. We think it's a nice fit.”
Given Wedge's interview, it wouldn't be surprising if there's a mass migration from Fort Wayne to Seattle. It's something to file away about the new manager: He cares enough about him hometown to fly there on his own for a dinner and a youth clinic - and enough about his new digs to sound as if he's working for the chamber of commerce.