Manager reveals decision to step down in 2014 shortly after batting practice
SEATTLE -- Manager Eric Wedge didn't give the usual pregame pep talk on Friday before the Mariners' 8-2 loss to the Athletics. Instead he informed the team that, by his own choice, he would not be returning to manage the club in 2014, and the news was met with a somber response.
Wedge's speech to the team was not about the trials and tribulations of the season, but instead the final lessons he hoped to impart to them as a mentor rather than a manager.
"I just talked about some things I think are important that I've talked to them about over the years," Wedge said. "What I want them to take from here and take with them, not just as baseball players, but more importantly as men, as husbands and fathers and sons. It's how you live your life. Those are the important things."
The players' reactions to the announcement were mixed; some took the news in stride as just another hiccup in a disappointing season, while others saw Wedge's decision as a personal failure on their parts.
Raul Ibanez has seen a number of managers come and go during his 18 years in the Major Leagues. After the loss he said that Wedge was both a good man and a good manager, and that he wished the team had performed better for their skipper's sake.
"The manager and the coaches, they don't play the game, and we should've been better," Ibanez said. "I think you always have to be accountable for your actions as a player. I think that we're all included in the team and we win together and we lose together. You know there was some disappointment on our part, I think we're a better team than we played this year."
Rookie Nick Franklin admitted that hearing the news in the short time frame between batting practice and the game's first pitch may have shaken the team's focus.
"Honestly, sometimes you think about it but more than anything you've just got to go out there and play the game no matter what the situation is," Franklin said. "It's unfortunate, but at the same time, all of us have to go through it and continue to play the game."
A's manager Bob Melvin -- who began his career as a manager with the Mariners from 2003-04 -- said that he was surprised by Wedge's decision, although he respects it. He added that he expects the Mariners to play hard for their manager while he finishes out the season.
"I have not talked to him yet, but [he's] a guy I know pretty well and has done a great job, not only in Cleveland but here," Melvin said. "I got to know him probably a little bit better than some other managers in the league, having gotten to travel to Japan and all. If that's his decision, that's his decision, and I wish him the best wherever he winds up."
Wedge's decision served as a reminder to all the players and coaches that the line between stardom and unemployment is razor-thin.
"It's tough, but it's a business and it is what it is," said first baseman Justin Smoak.
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com.