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May 27, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Wedge waxes earnest on the Mariner state of affairs

“All right,” Eric Wedge said, settling back into his office chair for the daily pregame media chat. “Let’s have at it.”
And for the next 15 minutes, Wedge, the Mariner manager, had at it. In what was part stern lecture, part pep talk, he took on critics of his lineup choices, preached fan patience as well as player discipline, and generally seemed to give off the vibe that he’s feeling the pain of the Mariner growing process as much as any outsider but that he can’t give in to it.
“Where most people get into trouble, they give in to that (expletive),” Wedge said, referring to the notion of deviating from the course to satisfy fans. “You can’t do that. You’ve got to be tough enough, you’ve got to be disciplined enough to stick to the plan, be convicted with what you’re doing, regardless of what anybody says.”
Wedge – and the M’s – have been criticized by an increasingly disgruntled fan base on a wide variety of issues, from the retention of Chone Figgins; to giving catcher Miguel Olivo games behind the plate instead of Jesus Montero or John Jaso; to the continued use of Ichiro in the No. 3 spot in the order.
“You’re not going to have a consistent lineup until you know what your players are capable of doing,” Wedge said. “They’re too young. So for all the yahoos out there that say you should play the same people every day, that you haven’t had a consistent lineup, you don’t know (expletive). Period. Because you can’t do that until you know what you have.”
As an example, Wedge returned Alex Liddi to the lineup in leftfield for Sunday’s series finale against the Angels. Liddi fluffed a fly ball Wednesday against the Rangers, but his grand slam won the game. Then he looked lost the next two days at the plate, striking out six times and showing what Wedge said Saturday was an an inability to immediately adjust.
So Wedge sat him down Saturday. But he talked a day later about a bright future if Liddi can master first, third and leftfield.
“Let’s get through this,” Wedge said of Liddi in left, crossing his fingers. “We tackled first base this spring with Alex, now we tackle leftfield.”
Wedge used the Liddi development — which he said might include holding him out of the lineup when fans think he should play every day — as emblematic that sometimes the M’s might have to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term results.
“If people don’t understand that, then frankly, I don’t care,” he said.
The M’s have dropped into the cellar in the American League West, entering Sunday’s game No. 50 of the year with a 21-28 record. At the 50-game mark in 2011, they were 25-25.
“If we progress to the point next year at this time as we have to this point – and most people won’t understand because they look at wins and losses and nothing but that – then that’s going to be a good thing,” Wedge insisted. “The startup (in a career) is one thing, but once you get past that and you’re playing in the big leagues a little bit, what you can do with the next full year’s progression, that’s pretty real.”
Winding up his pitch, Wedge said with a grin, “That’s my speech for the next 10 days. Chew on that for awhile.”
And What’s More . . .
–Wedge said he was encouraged by Franklin Gutierrez’ workouts here in a recovery from plantar fasciitis. Gutierrez will be sent to Arizona shortly for more work and then to what figures to be a lengthy rehab assignment in Tacoma.
— Figgins got a start partly because he has a career .294 average against Angels starter C.J. Wilson. Wedge said he had targeted Saunders for a day off awhile ago.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins, Jesus Montero


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