Eric Wedge was greeted with a round of applause when he stood in front of the team before Sunday’s game. And by the time the manager had talked to the Mariners players and staff for about 10 or 15 minutes, there were a few laughs and a load of relief.
“From when we saw him being helped off the field until now, it’s night and day,’’ outfielder Michael Saunders said. “It was a huge morale boost. When he came in and told us he was OK, I think a lot of weight was lifted off our shoulders, because he’s the captain of the ship.
“We’re all really, really concerned about him. First and foremost, it’s about health and family before baseball. Our thoughts were definitely with him, and to see him come in and give us a little pump-up speech like he did was great.
“To actually see him and see his attitude — his shoulders are back, his head’s held high. He’s a big, strong man. It was an extreme morale boost.”
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Afterward, Wedge left the ballpark and went home. Acting manager Robby Thompson said he spent several hours Saturday night with Wedge, his wife Kate, and their children, and they decided it would be good for him to make an appearance.
“Eric came in and said hello to the boys, and had a nice little talk with them,” Thompson said. “He looks great. He’s doing well, walking good, talking, the whole thing. He had a big smile on his face.
“It’s probably tough for him to leave right now and head back home. As we all know, he’d probably love to stay here. But that’s not the case. He’ll be back soon, though. He’s doing really, really well.
“I’m proud of him that he came in and addressed the team. He didn’t address them – he came in and said hello. He wanted to show the guys he’s doing well. It was good for the guys to see he’s doing fine, and not laying in bed. He walked in, as proud and tall and strong as Eric always is. It was a really good visit.”
Thompson said he doesn’t know the timeline for Wedge’s return to managing after suffering a mild stroke last Monday.
“I’m sure it will be sooner than later,” he said. “It was serious. He knows that, and he knows he has to stay away until he’s strong and ready. They’ll decide when that right time is to come back. We don’t know the time line. It’s up to Eric and the medical staff. He’ll know when the right time is.”
• Outfielder Michael Morse, on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tacoma, was removed from the Rainiers’ lineup during batting practice on Sunday and shook hands with teammates before departing. It was a likely precursor to his return to the Mariners for their upcoming trip, which beings Tuesday in Boston.
Morse hit .250 (6 for 24) with one homer in six games with the Rainiers. He’s been on the disabled list with a right quadriceps strain since June 22. A roster spot will have to be cleared for Morse’s return.
• Thompson said Daren Brown, who began the season as Tacoma’s manager, will continue as third-base coach. He’s filling in for Jeff Datz, who underwent cancer treatment but is now back in uniform.
“I think we’re going to keep as is, and he (Datz) will be my right-hand man, and we’ll leave Brownie out at third,’’ Thompson said. “He’s doing a great job. We’ll leave it as is for right now.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @StoneLarry