Eric Wedge “It’s going to take some time to get there, but ultimately it starts with your approach.”March 7, 2011 – 7:00 am by Steven Cuce
In an offseason that saw general manager Jack Zduriencik ink Chone Figgins and trade for Cliff Lee there were many baseball fans in Seattle thinking the American League West was just going to be a stepping stone for the Mariners in 2010. The unthinkable ensued in what turned out to be a nightmare for the M’s. Seattle lost 101 games marking the second time in three years that the ball club eclipsed the 100 loss mark. Don Wakamatsu went from being the guy to turn around the Mariners franchise into the odd man out as he was fired. Seattle finished last in every offensive category last season including home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
Zduriencik brought in Eric Wedge in attempt to wipe away all of last year’s mishaps including Milton Bradley blowing up and Ken Griffey Jr. allegedly falling asleep during a game, thus retiring in June. The Mariners feature some newcomers like Miguel Olivo and Jack Cust into the fold offensively along with prospects from the Cliff Lee trade like first basemen Justin Smoak in hopes of rejuvenating the offense. It may take some time for Eric Wedge to change the culture in Seattle, but he’s confident his team has the right approach here in spring training.
Eric Wedge joined KJR in Seattle with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett to discuss what has he found out about the Mariners that he didn’t know six weeks ago, who is the player that has impressed him the most in spring training so far, is Edward Paredes a pitching prospect who Mariners fans should expect to see on the opening day roster and what is the message that you have been preaching to the Mariners every day.
What have you found out about our team that you didn’t know six weeks ago?
“I love our size. I love our physical size and we were aware of that, but it’s nice to see out on the field. We got some good young arms. We got some good young position players and I’ve been real pleased with the non-roster invitees. I mean you like seeing the game on paper and thinking about what they’ve accomplished or what they’ve done in the past, but to see it out here has been good too. Ultimately like I said to Jack [Zduriencik] we’re going to have some decisions at the end of camp and that’s what you want.”
Give us a name/names that have impressed you? Who has caught your eye?
“Well probably [Erik] Bedard. I’ve been really pleased with the way he’s been throwing the baseball. A couple of younger kids. The [Johermyn] Chavez kid has made an impression on me. A young outfielder that we have. You look at some of our young pitchers, [Doug] Fister, has been a guy that obviously sticks out with his stature. He looks like J.R. Richard out there. There’s been so many other you know I’m always hesitant to name names because I don’t want people to read into it and eliminate other people, but I’ve been really pleased. There’s been a couple of guys who I have my eyes on that are really iffy to me, but for the most part I’ve been really pleased with what I’ve seen. Now we need to make sure we keep pushing forward and start seeing what we need to see in games.”
Is Edward Paredes a guy who has made an impression on the team and the pitching staff?
“Well you got a guy like that for his example I mean you know unless something real unforeseen happens he’s going to go back to the minor leagues, but he’s making an impression on the big league staff. He’s making an impression on his teammates. He’s getting familiar with being through this big league setting like the locker room, stadiums, dugouts and what not. I think that experience and being arond those teammates, our coaching staff, is going to help him, not just [Edward] Paredes but others as well, so it’s been fun to watch him play.”
What is the message that you have been preaching to this team every day?
“Well everything I’ve said to them you know ironically enough preaching up in Seattle when I was on that circuit tour talking to everybody when I was up there just wanted to make sure they understand it face-to-face you know what it means to be a Seattle Mariner, what to expect out of them as professional baseball players and big leaguers, a level of respect for the game, being a good teammate and just the way we go about our business. We’re not talking any days off. We’re gonna show up. We’re gonna get after it each and every day. We’re gonna have a good time doing it and we’re gonna play good, hard, smart baseball. It’s going to take some time to get there, but ultimately it starts with your approach, your level of expectation with your work and your approach from day-to-day. I want them to think the game, manage the game with me. I want them to work hard out there and to get better. Every swing counts. Everytime you pick up the baseball and throw the ball it counts. Every ground ball, every fly ball counts because you’re either working one way or the other way. I’ve been really pleased with there approach. Ultimately we’re going to find out what kind of team we are as we go into the regular season, but right now we’re going to do everything we could possibly do to be the best we can be. “