Wakamatsu has GM's support in Seattle

Wakamatsu has GM's support in Seattle
SEATTLE (AP) - Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said Tuesday he's sticking behind manager Don Wakamatsu for now despite the worst July in franchise history.

Zduriencik and Wakamatsu spoke before Tuesday's series opener against Texas about the state of the team after the Mariners went 6-22 in July. That effort matched the worst month overall in team history - set in August of the Mariners' inaugural year of 1977.

"Don is our manager," Zduriencik said. "Don and I, and his son went out to dinner last night. We had a very nice evening, spent like three or four hours together and talked about a lot of things. We talked where we're headed with the club, about Don and Don is our manager."

But when asked if Wakamatsu will return for a third season as Mariners manager in 2011, Zduriencik was slightly evasive.

"Everybody is evaluated at all times," he said. "As we go forward, you have to realize there is always an evaluation process going on at all times. You take a week at a time, a month at a time, a season at a time with everyone."

The idea of Wakamatsu having a questionable future with the team seemed preposterous at the end of 2009, when the rebuilding Mariners were completing an 85-77 season buoyed by the fan-friendly return of Ken Griffey Jr. to Seattle and Felix Hernandez's strong year on the mound.

The expectations increased when the Mariners added Cliff Lee in the offseason, making them a popular pick to contend in the American League West. But Seattle was 28 games under .500 and 22½ back of division-leading Texas before Tuesday night's matchup with the Rangers.

"Everything that has come out of my mouth is we want to put a product on the field the fans can respect and we haven't done that. To point the finger or look at me, they have every right to do that," Wakamatsu said. "I feel it every day. I don't sleep at night, but that means a lot to me ... that we give something back. We haven't given anything back."

Besides the embarrassing results on the field, Seattle also has had a couple of clubhouse issues that have reflected poorly on Wakamatsu.

Ken Griffey Jr.'s sudden retirement in June came after he started just once in his final 12 games before walking away. Wakamatsu also got into a heated dugout argument with second baseman Chone Figgins during Seattle's last homestand after Figgins was pulled midway through a game.

Zduriencik seemed to give Wakamatsu lukewarm public support after the scuffle with Figgins, with the second baseman - in the first year of a $36 million, 4-year deal - in the lineup the next day. Zduriencik disputed that claim.

"What I said to the staff and to the players, I think they got the message. Don is the manager and Don is in charge of this ballclub. And that point, I believe I got it across," Zduriencik said. "But to bring it out and air it out exactly how it went down, I didn't think it was the proper thing at that time. That was my judgment call."

The Mariners returned home Tuesday following an 0-7 trip that closed out a stretch of 18 straight games where Seattle went just 4-14. Wakamatsu has preached figuring out a solution to Seattle's sad season for months. He still believes his players are listening even if there are very limited results showing on the field.

"There have been changes a lot and players come in and out," Wakamatsu said. "It's not the same club I was talking to in spring training in a lot of cases. That's the challenge."