By Shannon Drayer
Eric Wedge was not shy about giving his feelings on not knowing with five days to go in the season what his contract status will be going forward. The following is a transcript of his very frank answers concerning his situation and the ballclub.
On the difficulty of managing without resolution with his contract status:
"Well, it's tough. I feel like, yeah, I am hanging out there. That's the reality of it. But I am coming out here and doing my job. You know how passionate I am about this team and these players in particular and this organization. But the unfortunate part of how it is being handled is the effect it is having on the players. That is why we are all here, for the players. I am a strong man. I am going to be fine either way but I would like to see this thing through. We've done a lot of developing with a lot of young players in three years. I'd like to be here to lead them and turn the corner."
On a comment he made last week about the team being on a good path and then being sidelined after the stroke and if he feels bad that he had to leave the team:
"Here's the thing: The big-league club was in bad shape when I got here. And that was told to me directly. We righted the ship. We won six more games the first year. We shored up our system and won eight more games last year. Came in here this year and felt like were going to do better. But things changed in a hurry with (Jesus) Montero, (Franklin) Gutierrez, (Michael) Morse, (Brendan) Ryan, (Dustin) Ackley, everybody up the middle, whether it be performance or injury. That's a quick change at some key positions. So you bring young kids up, so you take a step back to move two steps forward, that's what we did.
"And I still felt like, before I got sick, that we were ramping up. If you look at what we were starting to do and some of the series we were playing and some of the wins we were having, it was all coming together nicely and then I got sick and I'm gone for a month. It's not like I left marching orders. Robby (Thompson) and everybody did a great job, but the program was disrupted. It's been unfortunate. And it's been tough ever since. The guys are fighting and we're playing. We are in every game. That shows you how close you are. It can be frustrating when you look at it, but it also shows how close you are. We are a hit, a pitch, a play away from winning a lot of those ballgames.
"Hey, I've done this before. I know how to do it. The worst thing they could do is blow it up and start over. You got to stick something at some point in time."
Has he been told when he will get clarity on his contract situation?
"It will be sometime between now and the end of the season or when the season ends. We will have to sit down and talk."
How tough a situation is it to be managing not knowing what is next?
"Yeah, it is difficult. You shouldn't be in this situation. But you know what? You man up. You handle it. It's what you do. When you are leading men, men like to know who and what they are being led by and if they are going to be around tomorrow. It does change the dynamic. But I knew that a long time ago. This has not just started, it has been that way for a while. It gets to be in the way."
Would it be fair to bring up his health in making a decision?
"Well, that would be unfair because it has been very clear to me from the doctors that I am going to be 100 percent and I am going to have to get into the offseason and then I will be fine. But they said three to six months. But hell, I am going to be better than I ever have been because evidently my brain wasn't getting enough oxygen each night and I was working all day to catch up from it, so I am looking to be fueled and fired the rest of the way. I feel great. I feel like I am 33 years old again. My best managing days are ahead of me whether it is here or somewhere else.
"I want to be here. I moved my family out here, I committed to the community, I haven't done anything wrong other than to come out here and try to coach up these kids and teach them to play at the big-league level. That's what I do. I don't bitch about anything. I am here to help these kids become good big-league players and hopefully solid citizens here in Seattle. If that's not enough for them, so be it."
On being sold on this being a rebuild coming in and whether it followed the timeline he would have expected it to:
"With the exception, probably, of just getting younger in the third year, which is part of it. That's the way it has worked out because you have got a lot of good players coming. It's either that or you have got to go out and get somebody. So we took the alternative of bringing our young players up. If you do that you're not going to win as many games but you are going to be better suited for the future. It has to be a long-term plan. I didn't get here 12 years ago. I didn't get here six years ago. I got here less than three years ago. This is what we are doing. This is what we are committed to and you have got to have strength. You have got to have conviction with what you do. If someone else is sitting in this seat tomorrow they are going to be in a decent situation moving forward."