SEATTLE — A disappointing, at-times-embarrassing season wrapped up for the Mariners with a shutout loss and a closed-door clubhouse meeting where their manager bid them goodbye.
Eric Wedge had helped remind Seattle sports fans all week the local baseball team was still playing, tendering his resignation and then questioning the direction and leadership of upper management. Wedge toned things down before and after a season-ending 9-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
“It’s tough, I wanted to see this thing through,” Wedge said after his club finished 71-91, four games off last year’s pace. “But there were factors involved that became obviously clear to me that were not going to allow that to happen. So I had to make the decision that I made and I’ll move on to the next adventure. And hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to manage again. That’s something I would love to do.”
He would have loved to do it in Seattle and told his players that.
“I told them how much I appreciate their effort, how much I care about them. They’re the toughest part about leaving. That’s the sad part of it.”
The team had no announcements on the future of the coaching staff, all of whom have contracts beyond this season.
A crowd of 17,081 turned out for the Safeco Field finale and saw Erasmo Ramirez record only four outs before being pulled. Ramirez gave up four runs and walked four batters, admitting afterward his timing was off from the start.
For some of the Mariners, Wedge is the only big-league manager they have known.
“He’s been absolutely great for me,” Kyle Seager said. “I remember coming up here for FanFest after my first year and his first and he was telling me to keep on the path and everything will work out. And then him bringing me up and being the only manager I’ve had, I think he’s done a great job and I’m sorry that it didn’t work out. I’m definitely going to miss him.”
Seager said he learned a lot about what it takes to play every day. He finished with a .260 batting average, 22 home runs and an on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) mark of .764, earning Player of the Year honors from the local Baseball Writers’ Association of America for a second straight season.
“It was a tough year for us. We obviously didn’t do what we wanted to do,” Seager said. “But I think there’s a lot to get from this team. I think there’s a good nucleus here, a good core that we can continue to work forward with.”
Dustin Ackley was part of that core and finished stronger than he started, ending with a .253 average and .760 OPS after a midseason demotion.
“It’s been tough,” Ackley said. “It’s been a big learning experience for me mentally. ... Just going down there and coming back up. And having some success when I came back up, I think it shows the success that I’m capable of having.”
Ackley said he liked the stability that Wedge brought to the team the past three years.
“I think next year, if we just buckle down, some of the hitters, a lot of these young guys already have a half a year to a year under their belt,” Ackley said. “And I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t take the next step next year.”
About the only suspense left Sunday once the A’s went up 4-0 in the second inning and 8-0 in the fifth was whether Raul Ibanez could hit his 30th home run and eclipse the record shared with Ted Williams for players 41 and older.
Ibanez wound up flying out to left in his final at-bat in the eighth. Wedge let him take the field to start the ninth, then pulled Ibanez so he could get a standing ovation.
“That was really a special moment, one that I’ll always remember,” Ibanez said. “I’m always going to appreciate the fans here in Seattle for that and obviously for all the years that I’m here. And I’m always going to appreciate Eric Wedge for letting that moment happen.”