Bad ending to a bad trip

Jun 23, 2011, 3:00 PM | Updated: 6:25 pm

A bizarre ending to a terrible road trip. I was in the Mariners clubhouse talking to some of the players for postgame sound when Larry Stone came back in and asked if I had heard the news. After a three game sweep of the Mariners and having won 11 of their last 12 games, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman resigned.

I will let you read the news stories about it as it is not exactly my beat, but since we were there and I knew Jim I hustled over to the Nationals clubhouse after I sent my sound for the postgame show.

Riggleman was standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by the media. He apparently was not happy with his contract status. I was told he asked to have a conversation on the upcoming road trip to Chicago about his club option for next year that had yet to be picked up and he was told there would be no conversation. So he resigned.

I saw John McLaren standing near the door and he looked concerned. Four years ago he was in a similar situation but his manager then, Mike Hargrove, had told him he was going to resign. We actually talked about this just yesterday.

“I tried to talk him out of it,” McLaren said, clearly still not happy with that decision.

I don’t know if he knew then what would happen today. An interim manager will be announced on Friday but this is a tough situation for all of the coaches. Their job status if not for this year but definitely next year is in question. It is a tough way to live. Coaches typically are year to year. Managers usually are multi-year. Riggleman was for all purposes year to year and it can be very hard to manage like that. Players need to know that the person in charge will be there and be there with the support of upper management. If there is any hint otherwise there can be trouble.

Riggleman felt he deserved better than that and he made his stand today. I wish him well. He is a good man.

On to the terrible road trip. Let’s look at the good first. The starting pitching was stellar. The Chone Figgins situation seems to finally have clear definition. Dustin Ackley looks like he will be a major part of the offense and has eased worries about his defense. All good.

The problem is what the problem has been all year. The offense. While the small ball, fight for runs and play scrappy offense can be fun to watch, realistically they cannot continue with what we have seen and expect to contend. Let me remind you, no one thought they would contend this year but should that just be a bonus? Should that be the cherry on top of the yippee-we-finally-get-to-see-the-kids-play-sundae that we thought we were getting?

I don’t know if I have an answer for that. Not yet at least. I can’t help but wonder what this team could do if they were able to add at left field or DH. I am not talking about kids here and obviously if they were to do that then young players are not going to get to play and evaluation of the young players was the goal this year. Find out what they have and get them experience so they can help in the future.

We have seen progress in spells but then we see games like the last two days. The team still ranks last or near last in most offensive categories. If Ichiro has turned it around and Ackley can be Ackley at the major league level, is that enough to give the rest of the young players time to settle in and the veterans like Franklin Gutierrez to find some sort of consistency at the plate? Will that prove that the last two days were just a bump in the road? I don’t know. This one feels different. The reaction from the guys in the clubhouse was different. These three games were tough. They need not only to see some wins but some runs and they need to see them soon.

News and notes…Kyle Seager has been promoted to AAA and will make his debut at second base tonight with Tacoma. Seager was Dustin Ackley’s teammate at North Carolina. While he is starting at second tonight look for him to get games at third as well…More news from the minors, James Paxton from single A Clinton and Alex Liddi from the Rainiers have been named to the All Star Futures Game. Liddi from Italy and Paxton from Canada will play for the World team…Pitching note from the Nationals series. The Mariners starters surrendered just one run and struck out 22 in the 21 innings they pitched for a .043 ERA…The pitchers also collected 2 hits with Doug Fister and Michael Pineda each getting their first major league knocks…Felix Hernandez will take the hill and take his turn hitting tomorrow as the Mariners open a three game series against the Marlins tomorrow at Safeco Field. The Mariners will be the away team and play National League rules. The Marlins originally were not going to wear home unis in the series but changed their minds and packed them so the Mariners who will keep their home clubhouse and dugout will wear their road grays for the three game series. All games including Sunday will start at 710 and good seats remain for all.

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Bad ending to a bad trip