Why Mariners’ Dipoto isn’t worried about what George Kirby said

Sep 14, 2023, 12:30 PM

Seattle Mariners George Kirby...

George Kirby of the Seattle Mariners on during a game against the Twins on July 20, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It’s been nearly a week since second-year Seattle Mariners pitcher George Kirby found himself the focal point of a baseball controversy for comments he made after a loss.

Kirby shows ‘better understanding’ after critical commentsPassan weighs in

Talking to reporters following a 7-4 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays last Friday, Kirby expressed frustration for being sent out to pitch the seventh inning having already reached 90 pitches on the day. He gave up a two-run home run in that inning to Rays catcher René Pinto, which tied the game and ended his outing.

Kirby talked to reporters again the next day before the Mariners’ following game, saying that his comments were out of character and sharing that he had apologized to Mariners manager Scott Servais, but by that time what he said Friday had already created a considerable backlash on social media, including among some retired MLB pitchers who wondered what it said about the commitment of Kirby and pitchers in general in today’s game.

Seattle Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto had an opportunity to address the situation with Kirby when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Thursday for his weekly conversation, and he made it clear he doesn’t hold anything against Kirby for what he said. Dipoto, who was a big league pitcher for eight seasons and has spoken to the media regularly throughout his decade-plus career in MLB front offices, even made a self-deprecating joke about the ordeal.

“My general thought is, if you put a microphone in front of everybody after an emotional athletic endeavor, where you go out there and you’re grinding and your team’s in a postseason (race) and you just gave up a homer that was a key – I’ve made bigger flubs with a microphone in front of me under far less pressure than that,” Dipoto said. “It’s human, you’re just being human, and I don’t really count it as any more than that.”

Dipoto is understanding about the direction the discourse took after Kirby’s comments, but he’s just as understanding of why Kirby may have said what he did in the heat of the moment.

“I think the whole firestorm afterward about innings and pitcher development and what we should expect of pitchers in some far past generation – like, I understand the thought behind it, (but) go look at what George actually does,” Dipoto said. “You know, George is an innings eater. George is the guy that wants the ball and wants to go compete. He’s also a human being who’s really experiencing that type of moment for the first time in his baseball life, where, you know, we are riding the roller coaster of a September playoff race, and in the big moment, we lost it. And he reacted in a way that, clearly, the next day he expressed regretting, but I don’t really count it as any type of penalty, or (it) shouldn’t be counted as (anything) against George.

“He does throw the 100 pitches, he does throw the innings, and he wants the ball in those moments.”

Another one of those moments will come Friday when Kirby is scheduled to pitch in a 7:10 p.m. series opener against the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers at T-Mobile Park. Radio coverage will be carried on Seattle Sports 710 AM and the Seattle Sports app beginning at 6 p.m. with the pregame show.

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. each Thursday during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Listen to this week’s full edition at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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