General manager Jack Zduriencik met with media before the game, and said several times, "Don is our manager." But Zduriencik stopped short of committing to Wakamatsu's return next season.
When the Mariners came home from a winless trip that followed a disastrous month of July in the midst of a lost season, many thought a new manager would be walking the Safeco Field dugout.
But it was, indeed, still Don Wakamatsu in charge on Tuesday when the Mariners opened a nine-game homestand against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
Wakamatsu said he understands the scrutiny, in light of the team’s 39-67 record heading into the game, a 3-2 victory.
“To point the finger or look at me, they (the fans) have a right to do that,” he said. “I feel it every day. I don’t sleep at night.”
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General manager Jack Zduriencik met with media before the game, and said several times, “Don is our manager.”
But Zduriencik stopped short of committing to Wakamatsu’s return next season.
“As we go forward, you have to realize there is always an evaluation process going on at all times,” he said. “You take a week at a time, a month at a time, a season at a time with everyone, whether it’s player development, whether it’s scouts, whether it’s players on the field. You are evaluating people at all times. You get to a point where you look for answers, you get them and you move on.
“Right now, this is our club, this our manager, and we’re moving forward trying to win baseball games. That’s what we are focusing on.”
Zduriencik, in fact, sidestepped a question about whether Wakamatsu would finish the season as Mariners manager.
Zduriencik, Wakamatsu and Wakamatsu’s teenage son went out to dinner on Monday night, and the general manager said he and Wakamatsu discussed the future of the team and Wakamatsu’s role.
Zduriencik was asked about the perception that he didn’t back Wakamatsu strongly enough after the dugout confrontation between the manager and Chone Figgins on the last homestand.
Zduriencik responded that he chose to handle the matter internally, but that he made clear his support of Wakamatsu during meetings with the team.
“What I said to the staff and to the players, I think they got the message. Don is the manager and Don is in charge of this ballclub. At that point, I believe I got it across. But to bring it out and air it out exactly how it went down, I didn’t think it was the proper thing at that time. That was my judgment call.
“I had my meetings with Don privately, had my meetings with Figgy in private, then I had my meeting with them together, and then I had my meeting with the (team) with everyone in the room, and I think I made it perfectly clear behind closed doors what the expectations were and who was in charge.
“In my estimation, the best thing to do at that time was to keep it internal and move on and play baseball.”
“I came in here last year with some high expectations. We had a good year last year,” Wakamatsu said. “(This year) we’ve had some disappointments and injuries, but everything that’s come out of my mouth is we want to put a product on the field the fans can respect. We haven’t done that.
“The city of Seattle and fans mean a tremendous amount to me, to give something back. We haven’t given anything back. What I have to do and continue from this day forward is look at our club, look at each individual player, dialogue with them about mistakes and areas we can get better in.”
• Left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard will undergo shoulder surgery Friday, the Mariners announced. It will be the third straight season in which Bedard’s season has ended with shoulder surgery. The operation will be performed by Edward Khalfayan, the Mariners’ team physician, assisted by Lewis Yocum, the Angels’ orthopedist.