By Brent Stecker
Manager Eric Wedge notified the Mariners that he will not return in 2014, the team announced Friday afternoon.
Wedge will manage the final three games of the season this weekend against the Athletics and will fulfill the remainder of his contract, which expires Oct. 31.
Wedge addressed his decision with the media prior to Friday’s game.
“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,” Wedge said.
Wedge said he came to his conclusion after talking with Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and general manager Jack Zduriencik.
“I talked to Howard a while back and let him know my thoughts, and yesterday met with Jack,” Wedge said. “It’s got to the point to where it was painfully obvious to me that I just wasn’t going to be able to move forward with this organization. We see things differently and we talked about it. It just got to the point to where I just couldn’t continue to move forward.”
Wedge said he was hoping to see the Mariners finish their rebuilding effort, much like in his first managerial stint with Cleveland, which he took from a fourth-place finish in the American League Central in 2003 to winning the division title and taking AL Manager of the Year honors in 2007.
“I’m sad, first and foremost, for the players because I wanted to be a part of helping them move forward,” he said. “I’ve done it before and I wanted to have the opportunity to do it here again, but it’s just obvious that wasn’t going to be able to happen here.”
Wedge shed some light on what he thinks the team needs to do to progress.
“I just think that when you talk about building, you’ve gotta have a long-term view of it, and you’ve gotta be patient and you’ve gotta stick with the program,” he said. “Even on the worst days, you’ve gotta stick with the program. Even when everybody else is saying it’s not working, you’ve gotta stick with the program. Even when it’s not on your timeline, you’ve gotta stick with the program. And hopefully they’ll be able to do that here.”
He said that the Mariners talked to him about a one-year extension prior to the 2013 season, but he declined, and the subject was not revisited during this season.
“I told them I wasn’t willing or prepared to do that,” he said. “I didn’t feel like that was the proper endorsement for a young rebuilding team moving forward. I didn’t feel like that sent the right message to the players first and foremost, and then ultimately the fans, too. So that endorsement just wasn’t there for me.”
With the Mariners, Wedge posted records of 67-95 in 2011, 75-87 in 2012 and 70-89 this season. He missed 28 games this season after suffering a minor stroke on the field before a game July 22.
“I accept Eric’s decision not to return and thank him for his hard work here the past three years. I want to wish him and his family all the best in the future,” Zduriencik said in a press release from the Mariners.
Without a contract past this season, Wedge expressed his displeasure with an uncertain future earlier this week.
“It’s tough. I feel like I’m hanging out there, that’s the reality of it,” Wedge told reporters Wednesday. “It is difficult. We shouldn’t be in this situation. But you man up, you handle it. It’s what you do. When you’re leading men, the men like to know who and what they’re being led by and if they’re going to be around tomorrow. So it does change the dynamic. But I knew that a long time ago. This is not just starting, it’s been this way for quite a while. It gets to be in the way.”