GM Jack Zduriencik’s departure leaves McClendon’s future uncertain. He is under contract for next season, and Mather said the team will honor that contract. Although he would prefer to have McClendon return, he isn’t going to force the decision on a GM candidate.
CHICAGO — It’s not something Lloyd McClendon expected or wanted to discuss.
But on Friday afternoon, he sat on the dugout bench at U.S. Cellular Field and answered questions about the dismissal of the man who had hired him to manage the Mariners.
It was just a half-hour earlier that McClendon had gathered the team and staff, and with Mariners team president Kevin Mather, informed them that general manager Jack Zduriencik had been relieved of his duties.
“It was a private conversation I had with my players,” McClendon said when asked about his message. “We are just going to try to move forward and try to win ballgames on a daily basis.”
Some players who were active on social media already had heard the news. McClendon was informed by Mather early Friday morning at the team hotel.
“It hasn’t been a good day for a lot of different reasons,” McClendon said. “Jack was very dedicated to this organization, and it’s always tough when you lose a family member. I consider Jack a family member. He worked extremely hard with myself, the coaching staff as well as the players. It’s just been one of those years where a lot of things just have not turned out the way we thought it would.”
Zduriencik’s departure leaves McClendon’s future uncertain. He is under contract for next season, and Mather said the team will honor that contract.
“Lloyd is under contract in 2016,” Mather said to the media covering the team in Chicago. “I talked to him this morning, and he’s obviously very anxious. My final answer to Lloyd was: ‘At the end of the day, you will work for the new general manager.’ And he knows that. He gets it.”
Mather didn’t specify in what capacity, though he hopes it will be as the team’s manager.
“I like Lloyd,” he said. “In 2014, we won 87 games with a team I hoped could come close to .500. Our coaches were geniuses. This year, our bullpen imploded and we couldn’t hit for the first two months. Did Lloyd lose his mind? My answer is no. I think highly of Lloyd and his staff.”
The Mariners were 59-69 entering Friday — the third-worst record in the American League.
The prevailing thought is that any new general manager would want the freedom to hire his or her field manager. Mather understands that thinking. So although he would prefer to have McClendon return, he isn’t going to force the decision on a candidate or limit himself in his search for candidates amenable to the situation.
“I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “I think that makes this job less attractive. The new general manager will make the decision on the coaching staff — quite frankly, the coaching staff at all levels. That will be his call.”
But Mather hopes Zduriencik’s replacement will consider keeping McClendon. He expects them to meet and discuss the big-league club and evaluate the roster and organization.
“I’m hoping to get that general manager in sooner than later,” Mather said. “And I’m expecting Lloyd and the general manager will have plenty of time to discuss strategy and philosophy.”
McClendon wasn’t going to speculate Friday on his future, and he isn’t going to let it affect him for the team’s final 33 games. Instead, he will keep things normal.
“Same as I always do,” he said. “We go out today and try to win a ballgame. After this, the day is over. Go home, refuel and come out tomorrow and try to win a ballgame.”