LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said he didn’t believe the suggestions he and others made to manager Eric Wedge constituted “meddling.”
Zduriencik made the comments in a statement released Monday at baseball’s winter meetings in response to questions about a Seattle Times story on Sunday that described the team’s front office as dysfunctional.
The 474-word statement was far from an angry response.
It tried to clarify some of Wedge’s charges of interference from the front office.
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“I’ve worked for several major-league organizations,” Zduriencik said. “Our upper management has suggestions and asks questions, just like CEOs and presidents in other organizations do, all to be helpful and contribute to the goal of winning. We all want to win as soon as possible.
“When there are areas that need improvement, it’s my job to ask questions, suggest ideas and give direction to the field staff. When our upper management has questions or suggestions, it’s my job to respond to them. I don’t believe meddling is a fair portrayal.”
Zduriencik’s statement also said that Wedge’s desire for a long-term contract extension before the 2013 season was over was a major reason for his unhappiness with the organization.
“Eric approached me numerous times throughout the year expressing his desire for a long-term contract,” Zduriencik said. “Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension.”
There was concern among fans that the story might negatively affect the Mariners in their pursuit of talent in the offseason.
A front-office source from another team dismissed such a notion.
“That stuff doesn’t matter to free agents,” he said. “They look at the years, the money, the roster, the location. It’s how it affects them.”
Said former Mariners reliever and current MLB Radio Network analyst Jeff Nelson, “You deal with the front office when you negotiate a contract. After that you basically deal with the manager and you worry about what’s going on between the lines. You don’t pay attention to that. If I have to worry about what the front office is doing, then I have a problem on the field. You just take care of your business and worry about what the manager tells you to do.”
Zduriencik wasn’t concerned about negative feedback or perceptions of the club.
“Our focus is totally on making this club better,” he said. “We’re going to try to do what we can here, continue our meetings with the agents and focus on baseball.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @RyanDivish