By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — A day after announcing that he had no intention of returning to the Seattle Mariners after this season, manager Eric Wedge wanted to clarify a few things as to why.
Much was written about the idea of Wedge only being offered a one-year contract extension. It’s something general manager Jack Zduriencik hinted as the reason why Wedge was leaving. But on Saturday, Wedge said the contract had nothing to do with it.
“Let me be clear here, the contract was not the reason I’m not coming back here,” Wedge said. “If they offered me a 5-year contract, I wouldn’t have come back here. Okay. So let’s be clear on that.”
So if it’s not the contract, what is it?
“Where they see the club, they being Howard (Lincoln), Chuck (Armstrong) and Jack, and where I see the club and my vision of the future is just different,” Wedge said. “That’s as plain as I can make it.”
Wedge’s vision of the future is a little broad.
“It’s just about sticking with the kids you believe in, adding to it, being patient and sticking to the program,” Wedge said. “And having consistency. You have to have consistency of personnel. Every time you turn over, you start over again to a certain extent.”
Sources said that management wanted Wedge to make some changes to his coaching staff, which he was adamantly against. That was also a factor in his decision to not return.
And what is upper management’s vision?
“I’m not going to get into that, you’ll have to ask them,” Wedge said.
On Friday, Zduriencik said that he and Wedge had the same vision of the future, the only difference was the contract. But Wedge shrugged off that notion.
“Yeah, well, that’s not the case,” he said. “Like I said, it’s not because of the contract. It’s because of how they see things and how I see things.”
One of the factors may have been his control over the roster and daily lineups, which may not be as autonomous as it seemed. Did he have the control he expected as a veteran manager?
“No, not to the extent I would have liked,” he said.
Minor league awards
Before Saturday’s game, the Mariners handed out their organizational minor league awards for the 2013 season. Slick-fielding shortstop Chris Taylor was named the player of the year. Taylor, 23, hit .314 (165-for-525) with 100 runs scored, 28 doubles, 11 triples, eight home runs, 60 RBI, 84 walks and 38 stolen bases in 134 games combined between Class AA Jackson and Class A High Desert.
Taijuan Walker, who was called up in September, was named the starting pitcher of the year. Walker, 21, split the season between Jackson and Class AAA Tacoma, posting a combined 9-10 record with a 2.93 ERA while averaging 10.19 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (160 strikeouts) over 25 starts.
Carson Smith, a side-arm throwing right-hander for Jackson was named relief pitcher of the year. Smith, 23, went 1-3 with 15 saves and a 1.80 ERA in 44 relief appearances with the Generals. After giving up five runs over his first six relief appearances to start the season, Smith allowed only five earned runs over his last 38 games
Outfielder Abraham Almonte, who was also called up in September, received the heart and soul award for exemplary play and leadership.
Almonte combined to hit .300 (132-for-440) with 23 doubles, six triples, 15 home runs, 68 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 123 games with Jackson and Tacoma.
Longtime Washington State football and Tacoma Rainiers radio announcer Bob Robertson threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Robertson, who has lived in University Place for more than 30 years, said: “At least it didn’t bounce.” … Outfielder Endy Chavez reached a milestone in his career this week, cumulating 10 years of service time. … Almonte went 0-for-3 and saw his on-base streak snapped at 18 games.