Jack Zduriencik made himself available to the media before the game, as I suspected he would in light of the recent turmoil surrounding the team and the speculation about manager Don Wakamatsu’s future.
The key phrase, as you’ll see, is “Don is our manager.” In light of the fact that many people thought Wakamatsu would get fired yesterday, it was no doubt meant to curb some of that speculation. Yet Zduriencik, as I mentioned earlier, fell short of committing to Wakamatsu returning next year. With a team that’s heading for 100-plus losses, that’s not surprising, either.
One of the first questions to Zduriencik was whether Wakamatsu has the support of the front office.
“Sure. Don is our manager. Don and I and his son 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 were headed with the club, about Don, and Don is our manager.”
I asked whether he would commit to Wakamatsu managing the rest of the season.
“Don is our manager,” he replied. “How did we know anything about anything? Don is our manager. Certainly Don has my support. He is our manager. We are trying to win baseball games with Don running the ship.”
Someone asked, “Is it fair to say Don’s role will be evaluated after the season, or are you prepared to say that no matter what happens, Don will be manager in 2011?”
Zduriencik: “Everybody is evaluated at all times. As we go forward, you have to realize there is always an evaluation process going on at all times. You take a week at a time, a month at a time, a season at a time with everyone, whether it’s player devleopment, whether it’s scouts, whether it’s players on the field. You are evaluateing people at all times. You get to a point where you look for answers, you get them and you move on.
“Right now, this is our club, this our manager, and we’re moving forward trying to win baseball games and that’s what we are focusing on.”
I pointed out that many people had the perception he didn’t strongly back Wakamatsu after he benched Chone Figgins.
I”m not sure what the definition of backing is. What I had, I had my meetings with Don privately, had my meetings with Figgy privately, then I had my meeting with them together, and then I had my meeting with the big league staff with everyone in the room, and I think I made it perfectly clear behind closed doors what the expectations were and who was in charge.
“So at that moment, I felt that it was important that we keep the internal things internal. 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 to be. So for all parties involved there’s a lot at stake for a lot of people, whether it’s players, coaches, teammates, or the fanbase, 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 and play baseball…What I said to the staff and to the players, I think they got the message. Don is the manager and Don is in charge of this ball club. And that point, I believe I got it across. But to bring it out and air it out exactly how it went down, I didn’t think it was the proper thing at that time. That was my judgment call.
Asked again about the perception he left Wakamatsu hanging, Zduriencik said, “Don is our manager. I said that that day in the dugout when everyone walked away. Don is our manager. He’s running the ball club. He’s here right now. He’s runniig the ball club. I don’t know much more I could say. He is the manager of the Seattle Mariners.”
I’ll have some Wakamatsu comments in a moment, but I have to do a radio appearance on KJR. Sorry in advance for typos, but it was a rush job.