Mariners’ Zduriencik ‘has nothing to worry about’

NASHVILLE — Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is working without a net, but he does have a vote of confidence.

Zduriencik is in the final year of a two-year contract extension. There was some thought that Zduriencik might have a rollover clause in his contract so he would not be operating on a “lame duck” status this season. It was reported in 2007 and 2008 that then general manager Bill Bavasi had a clause like that in his contract.

On Thursday, Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said no to both queries. He said Bavasi had no such insurance in his contract, and neither does Zduriencik.

While Armstrong wouldn’t discuss contract situations, extensions or otherwise, he did say, “Jack has nothing to worry about.”

Zduriencik has overseen a dramatic reshaping and rebuilding of the minor-league and player development systems that were left in shambles after the Bavasi regime. However, the big-league product has not improved.

The 2009 season was a success with a winning record. However, the Mariners failed to get over .500 in the each of the next three seasons. Zduriencik said the past few years have been a rebuilding process, including the playing of several rookies. A year ago, the Mariners had more than a dozen players on their big-league roster with less than three years of major-league experience.

“We are doing this the right way,” Zduriencik said.

Rule 5 madness

With their 40-man roster full, the Seattle Mariners could not make a move to acquire a player in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 draft Thursday morning. The first player taken had some Mariners ties. Josh Fields, a reliever in the Red Sox organization, was picked No. 1 by the Houston Astros.

Fields was a first-round draft pick by the Mariners in 2008 out of Georgia by then-general manager Bill Bavasi. Fields held out and was about to re-enter the 2009 draft when Zduriencik, who had replaced the fired Bavasi, signed him.

But Fields never could put it together in the Mariners’ system. He was dealt last year as part of the three-team trade that sent pitcher Erik Bedard to the Red Sox.

In 42 combined appearances between Class AA and AAA, Fields posted a 2.01 ERA. He struck out 78 hitters and walked just 18 in 581/3 innings.

The Mariners did make a selection in the Class AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft, picking up infielder Eric Farris out of the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization.

“He’s a nice little middle infielder,” Zduriencik said. “He’s got some action and can run a little bit. We thought it was a very low-risk acquisition. We’ll give him a chance and see what happens.”

Farris hit .286 with seven home runs, 31 RBI and stole 35 bases in 131 games for the Nashville Sounds.

Zduriencik knows a little about Farris since he selected him out of Loyola Marymount in the 2007 draft (fourth round) as the scouting director of the Brewers.

Farris will be placed on the Tacoma Rainiers’ roster and must remain there the entire season or be offered back to the Brewers.

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