The Seattle Mariners introduced new manager Eric Wedge at a press conference this afternoon at Safeco Field. Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik met with the media and gave some insight into the hiring process and what Wedge to expect from the new Mariners skipper.
Zduriencik was confident in the hire, saying “We got a guy that we think can lead us where we wanna go. His experiences are gonna be positive for him. The fact that he got a year to reflect is also gonna be positive for him.”
When asked what the Mariners were looking for in a manager, Zduriencik laid out his criteria. “There were criteria that I was looking for.” Zduriencik said “A degree of tougness, discipline, a guy that will tell you how it is.”
It was clear from the beginning that Wedge was going to be an intense interview and his managerial style will reflect that. He spoke loudly and clear, almost yelling at times. His passion for the game and his job were apparent throughout the press conference.
“Passion and motivation are two of the strongest words to come out of my mouth.” Wedge said, “I saw the same passion with Howard, Chuck and Jack.”
He draws his passion from former-Indiana coach and fellow Fort Wayne native Bobby Knight.
“Bobby Knight and I grew up in Fort Wayne in Indiana. I loved his passion for the game.” he said when asked about Knight, “That passion was something that was important to me.”
Wedge addressed what he wants to see from the Seattle Mariners players and how he will manage the team going forward, saying he wants players that are “hard-nosed, consistent and intelligent.” Wedge expects his players to “Pay attention to the game. You’ve gotta watch the game. Manage the game with me. Be a smart baseball player.”
Wedge demands accountability as a manager, and wants to establish an identity for the Seattle Mariners, saying "The bottom line is we are going to stand for something here in the Mariners organization, from head to toe. "
It’s clear Wedge won’t shy away from confrontation, nor has he in the past. Wedge said that as a manager “you cannot be afraid to have a critical conversation.”
At times, that’s gotten him in trouble, notably with Mariners designated hitter Milton Bradley while the two were together with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wedge feels they’ll get along fine now and says "I’m looking forward to having another opportunity to work with him. I don’t hold any grudges."
Those thoughts were echoed by Bradley yesterday.
The focus for Wedge is on the players and developing a team that fits the mold he wants. “It’s not about me as a manager, it’s not about Jack or about Howard.” Wedge said, “It’s about the players.” He wants his players to respect each other and respect the game, creating a clubhouse environment he feels is conducive to winning. When asked what he wants from the Mariners, he promised “being a good teammate and respecting the game are going to happen here.”
Some have wondered whether the Mariners front office was simply looking for a sock-puppet manager that would fall in line with their wishes. Wedge answered that question saying “I’m not a yes man by any stretch of the imagination.”
Overall, Wedge sounds like any other manager in baseball. He wants a coehesive clubhouse with players that are accountable for their actions. He expects players to play to their full-potential every time they take the field and respect the game with their actions both on and off the field.
Wedge has begun the process of putting together his staff, with interim manager Darin Brown and Carl Willis both in the running for coaching jobs. If Brown is not kept on, Zduriencik said he may end up returning as the manager of the Tacoma Rainiers, the Mariners AAA affiliate.