Wedge believes youthful Mariners will turn it around
By Michael Simeona
A manager in the Major Leagues is like a baby sitter, father and confidant all wrapped into one. There are so many different personalities that must be managed every day through the grind of a 162-game season, it’s nearly impossible to get everybody on the same page consistently six months out of the year.
That’s the job Eric Wedge took when he was hired by Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik before the start of the 2011 season. A job that has required Wedge to be extremely patient with one of the youngest rosters in all of baseball.
“I’ve always said [baseball] mirrors life more than any other sport because you have to do it every single day,” Wedge explained during the “Brock and Salk Show” on Wednesday morning from Safeco Field. “There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of intangibles that go with this.”
Not only does Wedge have to manage a team still trying to find it’s identity, he also has to deal with the external pressures associated with a fanbase that has not seen a consistent winner in over a decade. While the Mariners once again sit at the bottom of the American League standings, Wedge is confident that his young team will turn it around in the near future.
Wedge believes Dustin Ackley’s struggles are part of the process in becoming a great player. (AP)
“There’s a lot that’s different this year, we’re a completely different ball club,” said Wedge of the difference between the 2011 and 2012 Mariners. “I know it’s sometimes hard for people to see, it hasn’t translated in the wins and losses just yet, but we’ve got a lot of real ballplayers here that are going to play in the big leagues for a long time.”
One of those ballplayers, Dustin Ackley, has struggled mightily during his second season with the club. Many have described Ackley’s tough season as part of the vaunted ‘sophomore slump’, but according to Wedge it’s all part of the process in becoming a great player.
“What [Ackley] is going through will make him a more complete player because he’s going through a place right now that he’s probably never gone through before in his life or his career for sure.
“It’s a series of back-and-forth your entire career. That’s why Cal Ripken had 25 different stances…you have to make adjustments.”
As the season’s second half quickly approaches, the Mariners have many things to improve upon. The Mariners’ .238 team batting average and 4.20 team ERA ranks near the bottom of the league in both categories, and their home record (13-20) is third worst in all of baseball.
But despite their diminished success at Safeco Field, Wedge is confident that it will all turn around soon.
“It will take care of itself because the individuals and the team, they’re much better. They’re just better hitters. They’ve got a better approach, they’ve got a smarter mindset, they’re sticking with their plan better and it hasn’t translated here consistently, I get that.”
Like proud parents seeing their kids grow before their very eyes, Wedge and Zduriencik believe in this young team more than anybody else. It’s only a matter of time before the Mariners will get over the hump.
“If there’s anybody out there that they don’t think we’re going to do this, are you kidding me? There’s no chance that we’re not going to do this.
“These kids are going to figure it out and that’s what we’re right in the middle doing.”