Rather than wait for team management to tell him to go away, manager Eric Wedge beat the Mariners to it Friday afternoon, telling the club that after the season ends Sunday, he was done with a franchise that has locked up its eighth losing season in the past 10, three under Wedge.
“Obviously, I wasn’t going to move forward here,” Wedge told reporters before the game with the Oakland. “We see things differently, we talk about it, but it was obvious I wasn’t going to move forward.
“I informed them officially this morning that I want to finish this season and honor my contract, but I will not return for the 2014 season here, and that’s where I left it.”
He said that the Mariners talked to him about a one-year extension prior to the season, but he declined, and the subject was dropped.
“I told them I wasn’t willing or prepared to do that. I didn’t feel like that was the proper endorsement (for a manager of a young team),” he said.
Wedge seemed to know he was done well before Wednesday, when he criticized management in a pre-game talk with reporters for letting him “hang out there” once they let out word that the man who hired him, general manager Jack Zduriencik, would be back for another season.
“He thought going in a different direction was best,” Zduriencik told KJR radio. “He put in his resignation this morning. It’s unfortunate.
“From my standpoint, I’m saddened. We had every intention of bringing him back, and he declined it last year. We were going to meet on Monday on a gamut of issues with the club. We talked yesterday at an impromptu meeting and he made his decision this morning. I look at it as disappointing, but also as a great opportunity.”
Zduriencik declined to address Wedge’s complaint that he was denied an extension for more than a year, citing club policy.
“I wanted Eric back,” he said. “It was never a part of the discussion within the organization, among Howard (Lincoln, CEO) and Chuck (Armstrong, president) and myself, of Eric not returning.”
Speaking generally, Zduriencik didn’t think a deal of longer than a year was needed, citing former Dodgers managers Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda as managers who worked on one-year rollovers.
“I look at differently,” he said. “Players play. A manager has a certain influence, a coaching staff has a certain influence, but players are going to play. When you have a group of young kids, you have to trust the process.”
Wedge missed 28 games this season after suffering a minor stroke on the field before a game July 22. Upon his return, the club lost six in a row.
The season ends Sunday and his contract runs through Oct. 31. Zduriencik, whose extension from last winter was confirmed only this week when a reporter asked, will presumably pick a third manager in his five-year tenure, after firing Don Wakamatsu in mid-season of 2010, his second season.
“There’s a certain prototype I’m looking for,” Zduriencik said about the next manager. “We have young kids who need a mentor. There’s going to be a very excited manager taking over this ballclub.”
Mariners Managers (1977-13)