Seattle players share blame with Wakamatsu
Mariners' performance on field falls short of expectations
SEATTLE -- All it took was a few mirrors for the Mariners to find the reason for the dismissal of manager Don Wakamatsu and three of his coaches on Monday.
"It's not fair to say the manager has to take all the blame," right fielder Ichiro Suzuki said. "I'm just saying as a group we are all to blame."
The Mariners, expected to be competitive in the American League West this season, entered Monday night's 3-1 win over the Athletics with a 42-70 record. But not even the first series win in more than a month could save Wakamatsu's job.
Wakamatsu, pitching coach Rick Adair, bench coach Ty Van Burkleo and performance coach Steve Hecht were relieved of their duties late Monday morning.
Several players were surprised by the timing of the moves but understand that losing games is the reason managers are dismissed.
"It's frustrating because when he came in as manager last year everything worked so well," Ichiro said. "We haven't been able to do that year. It's the whole club that's responsible."
Rookie left fielder Michael Saunders agreed.
"It was based on our performance on the field," Saunders said. "The front office, fans, media and players all came into this season excited about what we had an opportunity to do with the talent we had on the field, and it was quite the opposite. I don't think anyone, including ourselves, expected us to be in the position we are in today. It's unfortunate that this is what it has come to."
The Mariners, who lost 21 games in May and tied a franchise record with 22 losses in July, are last in the AL in most offensive categories, and none of the position players has performed to his expectations or even approached career averages.
"We, as players, are not doing our job," closer David Aardsma said. "That's the bottom line. We are not winning enough games and when you don't, changes are made."
The Mariners, who went 85-77 under Wakamatsu last season, went into Monday night's game on pace to lose 100 games for the second time in the past three seasons.
What a difference one year has made.
"We had a great thing going on here last year," designated hitter Russell Branyan said. "We won a lot of ballgames and had a lot of fun, but things just weren't working out this year."
Branyan could have been one of the reasons things weren't working out this year.
He was not re-signed after his 31-home run season in 2009, nor was third baseman Adrian Beltre -- two of the leading run producers on the 85-win team.
Branyan returned to Seattle via a trade with the Indians last month.
"I haven't been here the whole year," he said, "but I know the man that was in that office yesterday and the man that was in their last year hasn't changed. Don maintained a level of professionalism that you like in a Major League manager.
"He prided himself on building relationships and having his guys go out there, compete and win ballgames. The winning didn't happen this year and Jack [Zduriencik, general manager] made a decision. I'm sure it was a tough decision. But as baseball players wearing this uniform, we maintain our professionalism and we're going to go out for the Seattle Mariners and play to the best of our ability."
Aardsma said, "It's sad. Unfortunately, we didn't play well enough to keep him here."
"When you're not in first place and not competing, it makes for a long season," Branyan said. "We've got a lot of great guys in this clubhouse who really care about the game and are really proud to be Seattle Mariners.
"But for some reason, we just haven't been able to win this year. You can speculate or point finger or talk about the clubhouse or this or that. But I don't think anyone really has an answer. So I'm not going to speculate on that.
"I just know we lost a good man today, and Don Wakamatsu and his three coaches will be missed. I wish them the best because I have a tremendous amount of respect for Don and Rick and Ty. But Jack made a decision today and he runs this club and as professionals, we'll respect that decision and go out and play just as hard today as we did yesterday."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.