GM gives Wakamatsu vote of confidence
Manager has 'support,' team 'moved on' from dugout incident
SEATTLE -- General manager Jack Zduriencik said on Tuesday that the recent dugout incident between Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and second baseman Chone Figgins was settled "internally", the team has "moved on", and he stands behind his second-year skipper.
"Don is our manager," Zduriencik said during an impromptu media session on the field prior to the Mariners' series opener against the Rangers at Safeco Field. "Don and I and his son [Luke] went out to dinner last night. We had a very nice evening, spent like three or four hours together and talked about a lot of things. We talked where we're headed with the club, about Don, and Don is our manager. We are trying to win baseball games with Don running the ship.
"He has my support."
The Zduriencik-Wakamatsu tandem has come under fire from fans who have agonized over the team's poor showing this season. The Mariners went into the series riding a seven-game losing streak with a 39-67 record and 22 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the American League West.
A regular season that was expected to be just as good, if not better than, last season's 85-win campaign has become one of the most disappointing in franchise history.
The Wakamatsu-Figgins incident occurred when the second baseman was pulled from a game after letting an errant relay throw from the outfield get past him without making an effort to go after the ball.
The organization has been criticized for not publicly supporting Wakamatsu.
Zduriencik said he met privately with Wakamatsu and Figgins and jointly with the team.
"I think I made it perfectly clear behind closed doors what the expectations are, and who is in charge," Zduriencik said. "So, at that moment, I felt it was important that we keep the internal things internal."
Neither Wakamatsu nor Figgins have discussed the incident.
"During the course of a season, during the course of a career, there are things that happen, and sometimes they aren't as pleasant as you would like [them] to be," Zduriencik said. "So for all parties involved there's a lot at stake for a lot of people, whether it's players, coaches, teammates, or the fan base for that matter too. Sometimes you are better off when you gather all your information and you've addressed it as I've made a decision to do.
"And in my estimation, the best thing to do at that time was to keep it internal and move on and play baseball."
The Mariners have played lackluster baseball for most of the season and especially in July when they had a 6-22 record, tying the franchise record for most losses in a month.
They started August with another loss, burying them deeper in the AL West cellar.
"I think managers first and foremost are judged by wins and losses, and rightly so," Wakamatsu said Tuesday when asked how secure he feels. "I don't really focus on those things. I focus on the 25 guys out here. My security is not as important as trying to get these guys better, and that's how I feel about it."
He said fans have "every right" to be upset with the way the team has performed.
"I came in here last year with some high expectations and we had a good year," Wakamatsu said. "[This year] we've had some disappointments and injuries, but everything that's come out of my mouth is we want to put a product on the field the fans can respect.
"We haven't done that. To point the finger or look at me, they have a right to do that. I feel it every day. I don't sleep at night. That means a lot to me. The city of Seattle and fans mean a tremendous amount to me, to give something back. We haven't given anything back. What I have to do and continue from this day forward is look at our club, look at each individual player, dialogue with them about mistakes and areas we can get better in."
Despite the gloomy season, Zduriencik said things will get better.
"I realize everything is focused on the Major League club and that seems to be where all the focus is," Zduriencik said. "But there are a lot of good things happening here. We have some young kids gaining great experience, a lot of great things going on the Minor Leagues.
"We are real happy with a lot of our [young] players, guys moving up the system in a short period of time, so you have to realize that it is a process. I said from the day I got the job that building an organization is a process, and through this process you are going to have peaks and valleys. It's not a straight line from point A to point Z.
"I have no doubt that we will get this right."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.