SEATTLE — Eric Wedge told the Seattle Mariners on Friday that he will not return as manager next season, saying it became obvious he did not have a future with the organization.
Wedge will manage the final three games of this season against Oakland before the Mariners begin a search for a new manager.
“It’s got to the point where it’s painfully obvious to me that I just wasn’t going to be able to move forward with this organization,” Wedge said before Friday’s game. “We see things differently and we talked about it but it just got to the point where I couldn’t continue to move forward. Ultimately, I didn’t feel like I could continue to manage here with the circumstances the way they are.”
Wedge was brought in to replace Don Wakamatsu — who was fired during the 2010 season — because of the track record he built in Cleveland, taking the Indians through a rebuilding process and nearly leading them to the World Series. But the rebuilding never seemed to end in Seattle where there was a constant influx of young prospects and some veterans failing to meet expectations.
Seattle, which has never reached the World Series, entered the final weekend 70-89, assured of its fourth straight losing season. General manager Jack Zduriencik said the club had every intention of bringing Wedge back for 2014.
“I was looking forward to having Eric back but through his series of thought processes he decided that this wasn’t going to work,” Zduriencik said.
Wedge indicated the team had approached him last offseason about a one-year extension but he didn’t feel that was a “proper endorsement” when trying to rebuild a team. Wedge complained this week that he felt he was left “hanging out there” by the organization on his status for next year.
“I didn’t feel like that sent the right message to the players first and foremost and then ultimately the fans, too,” Wedge said. “Ultimately, that endorsement just wasn’t there for me.”
Zduriencik planned to meet with Wedge on Monday to discuss the future before Wedge requested the earlier meeting Friday morning.
“I thought there weren’t any issues that weren’t workable, at least from my standpoint,” Zduriencik said.
Zduriencik felt the differences Wedge spoke about were largely focused around the status of his contract.
Wedge still believes the organization is heading in the right direction and stated again Friday he had wanted to see the rebuilding process through to its conclusion.
“We’ve got some kids out here who are going to be good big league ball players for the Seattle Mariners,” Wedge said. “My belief in these kids and what I believe they’re going to do has never wavered.”
Ultimately, Wedge didn’t feel he was getting the necessary support from the organization to continue in his role as manager.
“It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating,” Wedge said. “It’s upsetting but sometimes people just don’t see things the same way and things just don’t work out. It isn’t for lack of trying. I wanted it to work. It’s just not going to.”
Seattle was 212-271 with Wedge in charge entering Friday night. He was the seventh manager — or interim manager — for the club since Lou Piniella left after the 2002 season.
Seattle was on the fringes of contention in July, winning eight straight games, when Wedge had a minor stroke.
He was helped off the field during batting practice on July 22 and was taken to a hospital. He was diagnosed with a mild stroke the next day and began a monthlong recovery that called for changes in his diet, exercise and dealing with the stress of his occupation. Robby Thompson filled in while Wedge was out.
Wedge said his decision was not health related.