First things first, the Mariners are still not confirming that general manager Jack Zduriencik has been extended for 2014. Zduriencik once again declined to comment on it, citing club policy about contracts. But when Zduriencik was reminded that the club did indeed publicize his previous contract extension back in 2011 (see snapshot of top part of release below), A PR staffer intervened and said that was a question best directed at officials making those types of decisions.
So far, those officials have declined comment, citing the same policy they ignored two years ago when they were happy to announce Zduriencik was coming back.
Which makes you wonder, if Zduriencik does indeed have the extension — which I’m told he does — why is the team balking at confirming it? Is it because they may not be through their evaluation of Zduriencik yet? Perhaps there’s another candidate who might become available? Is it because manager Eric Wedge does not have a similar extension after this year?
As I said last night on the show, the big news here isn’t that Zduriencik has an extension, which can easily be tossed away and bought out money-wise if the team wants to go in another direction for 2014. The big news is whether ot not the team is prepared to allow Zduriencik to work through 2014 — and what the evaluation that led to the team’s decision was based on. So far, the team won’t say, though Zduriencik insists he’s “raring to go” for 2014. The question is whether the Mariners have already told him he will be, and, if so, why they’re so hesitant to explain the decision-making process.
As for Wedge himself, he’s back in the dugout tonight for the first time. You may have read our interview with him two days ago, so I’m not going to cover all that other stuff a second time around. But Wedge reiterated today how seriously he’s taking the stroke he suffered and the fact he’ll have to alter some aspects of his behavior and how he deals with stress.
That part won’t be easy, since managing baseball requires passion. But Wedge insists he won’t need any reminders.
“I think I’ve got one hell of a reminder now,” he said. “I’ve got a great reference point here. I did not like not being in control. And I didn’t have it there for a couple days. And that’s one hell of a scary feeling. So, then, once they all figured it out, this, that and the other, I’ll never need another reminder again.”
“I never would have thought that I’d be able to slow myself down,” Wedge said. “But when the doctor looks you in the eye and says ‘Slow yourself down or else’, you know he’s not joking about it. And then the next doctor comes in and says the same thing and the next doctor comes in. So, I think when you have intensity and passion and you care so damned much, to a fault maybe, when you’re doing that all day long, eventually it’s going to catch up to you.”
Wedge was asked about how he’ll approach managing. He said the easiest part of the game is managing during the game itself. It’s all the other stuff, he added, both before and after the game, that he could probably prioritize better and not get so worked up over in certain situations.
“I’m not the first manager to go through some type of sickness, but this is rather unique I guess,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I was the youngest guy in that stroke ward, I’ll tell you that much. But again, I look at everything as, this all happened for a reason. I’m going to be a better man and a better professional before this.”
In other news, Mariners’ No. 1 draft pick D.J. Peterson underwent the first of two phases of surgery today in Iowa to deal with the jaw he fractured last night when struck in the face with a pitch in a Class A Midwest League game. Peterson has a deep gash on his face, so surgeons are doing the repair in two phases and the second one might even be done in Seattle.
Zduriencik said Peterson needs to have the jaw wired shut and then is expected to miss six weeks of time. The Mariners had planned to send Peterson to the Arizona Fall League in October, but that’s now being re-evaluated.
Taijuan Walker is nearing his innings limit in AAA, but Zduriencik did not rule out the possibility he could be called up in September by the big league club.
“We’re having discussions about call-ups at this point,” he said. “I don’t want to be premature in my discussions about any particular player. Obviously, he’s a valued commodity for us and I just think we have to do what’s best for Taijuan more than anything else and obviously, what’s best for the organization. What’s best for Taijuan is going to be best for us, short-term and long-term. We’re having discussions right now.”