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August 23, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Upbeat Wedge likes the progress he’s seeing

Eric Wedge was in an expansive mood today before the doubleheader, and I believe it’ s a carry-over from a game last night he savored for more than the 3-2 victory. He truly believes he’s starting to see the team come together.
“I guess I’ve been talking about what I want to see pretty much all year, and now I’m talking about what I’m seeing now, if that makes any sense,” he said. “At some point in time, all these pieces that are all over the place are going to come into line. That’s good. I just want good baseball, man. That’s what I want, and that’s what you’re going to see eventually.
“You saw it last night. That was a helluva game. You realize that was a great game for us. Seriously. If you look at everything, and playing a team that’s in the mix, everything I’ve been talking about, that’s it. That’s the real deal.”

He used Franklin Gutierrez’s decisive at-bat in the ninth, working a sacrifice fly off a closer who had already hit two batters in the inning, as an example.
“He gets in there, he gets a tough call on a high pitch — which, I’m surprised I still have a voice today. But he stuck his nose in there, man, and got that fly ball. Granted, it wasn’t deep.
“Our at-bats have been better. You’ve heard me bitching and moaning all year long about what we’re looking for. These guys are starting to get it. I monitor bad outs. You hear me talk about good outs? I monitor, in my own brain – I don’t talk to the coaches about it – bad outs over the course of the game. They’re few and far between right now. If you understand what that means as you play it forward, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal.”
I asked him if the kids on the team were the ones setting the tone, particularly Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp. Wedge paused for a long time, as if weighing how to answer.
“That’s kind of a dangerous question, but you know what? Yeah. Yeah, I think they are. The politically correct answer would be no. But the right answer is yes. So, yeah, they are.
“It is impressive. I don’t know what Ackley is going to be, I don’t know what Carp’s going to be. But I do know this: They’ve been three-four for how long? Over a month, maybe. That’s the real deal. In the big leagues? With everything we’ve been flipping back and forth for awhile. How many times have you asked me why so and so is hitting fourth? Guess what – because I didn’t have any other options at that point. I can say it now. I couldn’t say it then. But these guys are hitting three and four because they deserve to be at three and four. That’s in the big leagues. That’s pretty good.”
The Mariners provided a statistic today that the five rookie position players on their roster — Ackley, Carp, Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson and Kyle Seager — have combined to play 149 games with a .289 average (151-for-522) with 64 runs, 26 doubles, 6 triples, 19 homers and 73 RBIs). It’s a large reason their offensive numbers have been far more respectable of late.
Wells, in 16 games with Seattle, is hitting .333 (19-for-57) with six homers, 14 RBIs, a .415 on-base percentage and .649 slugging percentage. His play has also excited Wedge.
“He’s going to be playing pretty much every day for the rest of the year,” Wedge said. “You can’t deny what he’s been doing here. I’m still getting to know him, on the field and off the field. Paying attention. He’s got my attention, I’ll tell you that much.”
Bringing it back to Gutierrez’s at-bat,” Wedge said, “More was on the line last night, but that’s the kind of toughness I want. I know it’s in there with Gut and that’s what I’ve seen the last 2 ½ weeks, and I need to continue to see that. I’m not just looking for a Gold Glove center fielder, I’m looking for a Gold Glove center fielder that can produce at home plate, too. And he’s capabe of doing it. And that’s what I need to see. And that’s what we’ve been seeing the last 2 ½ weeks.”
Why does Wedge sound so optimistic now? It sounds like he feels his message is being heard.
“It’s been there all year for me. But like I’ve said, where’s the last place you see it? On the field. It just takes time. This game is so hard. These guys are so good it’s ridiculous. It’s so hard to go out there and perform and play this game. I respect the hell out of it.
“It’s my job to make sure they play the right way, and our job as coaches to help them move in that direction. But it just takes time. What’s a good analogy? It’s like the country music stars or any music star that says it took me 10 years to become an overnight success.
“It just takes time. You’re in the trenches for a long time. It’s everything behind the scenes, it’s every day. When they’re out there taking BP, it’s not eye wash. There’s a reason we’re out there working before the game. And there’s a reason we’re not taking BP today. So when we’re sitting here a year from now, or two years from now, and you’re looking at me like, ‘How did all this happen,’ reflect back to today. That’s the way it works.”
Wedge leaned back in his chair and laughed.
“We’d better be sitting here a year from now … or I’ll (be upset).”



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