By Brent Stecker
Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge hasn't been with the team since he suffered a mild stroke before a game on July 22. Yet other than the lack of his familiar face in the dugout, one would be hard-pressed to tell something is missing. And that's a testament to acting manager Robby Thompson.
Robby Thompson has a 4-5 record since taking over as the Mariners' acting manager after Eric Wedge's minor stroke on July 22. (AP)
Thompson, the Mariners' bench coach since he and Wedge joined the team in 2011, has filled in admirably for his close friend, keeping the team near .500 (4-5) since he assumed the manager's post. It's been a noble effort, and it will likely get him some attention from teams looking for new skippers after the season, as Mariners broadcaster Mike Blowers pointed out on "Bob and Groz."
"I think he's going to get an opportunity over the next few years (to manage)," Blowers said of Thompson. "He's a great baseball guy. He's been in it his entire life, he's accomplished a lot as a player and he's done a lot as a coach, and he's getting an opportunity to manage right now while Eric is down.
"There was some talk about it a couple of years ago with him (getting a chance to manage), and I'm surprised that that hasn't happened. I would suspect maybe even this winter that he starts getting some interviews for some jobs, because I think he would be excellent at it."
Thompson was a two-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glove award winner and one-time Silver Slugger recipient in his 11-year playing career as a second baseman with the San Francisco Giants. He's been a coach since 2000, and has been on Wedge's staffs ever since their days in Cleveland. Their close relationship has shown on the field, as there hasn't been much, if any, deviation from Wedge's philosophies in his absence.
"The in-game managing part of it, I haven't seen any changes on it," said Blowers. "I think right now they know what this club is. They're a club that hits a lot of home runs, and I think that's what they're playing for right now. Hopefully with (second baseman Nick) Franklin and (shortstop Brad) Miller, those guys will start running a little bit more, but I haven't seen Robbie really get away from what Eric was doing."
For now, Thompson is keeping in close touch with Wedge, who doesn't have a firm date set for his return.
"I know that (Thompson) talks to Eric daily, and I know that they talk about the lineup and all those different things, so I think they agree on that stuff," Blowers said. "Obviously it's tough when he's filling in for one of his good friends and his boss."