The latest manager to take charge of the Mariners says his players will be ready to “do battle’’ from the start.
Lloyd McClendon outlined the philosophy he’ll make a crucial element for his players to follow at his introductory news conference at Safeco Field on Thursday.
“I don’t promise victories on a nightly basis and I don’t ask my players to go out and win any particular game,’’ McClendon said. “But one thing that I do and I will demand is that we prepare — both from a physical and a mental standpoint – to go out and do battle.
“My motto is simple. I respect my opponents. But I fear nobody. And I want my players to take on my personality, how I approach the game and how we go about our business.’’
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That’s some tough talk, though Mariners fans have heard it before. They heard it just three years ago, when McClendon’s predecessor, Eric Wedge, was hired.
“The way we play and our effort and the way we go about it is going to be there each and every day,” Wedge said. “And it’s going to be to the point where the other team knows who they’re playing and who they’re fighting against.’’
McClendon was asked whether he was concerned about being the team’s eighth manager since Lou Piniella left in 2003.
“That doesn’t concern me at all,” McClendon said. “When you don’t win and you don’t succeed, changes are going to be made. That’s the way it is. That’s the nature of this business, and I fully accept that. I fully understand that.’’
General manager Jack Zduriencik seemed to acknowledge Thursday that hiring his third manager in five years is pushing some limits. In answering a question about his vetting process for managers, he quipped: “I’ve been through this one too many times.’’
Zduriencik believes McClendon is more experienced now than he was three years ago when he lost out to Wedge.
“He’s such a genuine guy,’’ Zduriencik said. “I think his leadership skills are that much better. He’s always been that, but I think his three years with Jim (Tigers manager Jim Leyland) continued to help him grow. … This guy is prepared for the job.’’
Zduriencik added that he plans to bolster the team with outside talent this winter and that it can only help a team headed “in the right direction.’’
McClendon was emphatic when asked what drew him to the Mariners. “Felix, Felix and Felix,’’ he said. “I mean, come on, this guy is just unbelievable. He’s a tremendous asset to any organization, and what he does out there is awfully special.’’
Wedge had sounded a similar tune about Felix Hernandez three years ago. Only time will tell whether McClendon can differentiate himself from Wedge, Wakamatsu and the half-dozen other managers since the Mariners last made the playoffs in 2001. Like many before him, McClendon insists this team is close.
“I think this is a golden opportunity for me, and this is a golden time for the Seattle Mariners,” McClendon said. “I think there’s nothing but good things for this organization, and I certainly think we’re heading in the right direction.
“I know the last three or four years have been very tough and very disappointing. But I was asked a question earlier today: Does this team remind you at all of the Pittsburgh Pirates? And I said no, it reminds me of the Detroit Tigers. And I mean that sincerely. This team reminds me so much of the 2006 Tigers and the potential that was with that team.’’
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners