ARLINGTON -- Trying times can lead to extreme measures. That's one possible explanation for what happened inside the visiting clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Wednesday afternoon. With clippers in hand, first baseman Richie Sexson and third baseman Adrian Beltre took turns chopping the locks off most of their Mariners teammates -- including manager John McLaren.
"I haven't had my hair this short since I was 12 years old," McLaren, 55, said. Right-handed closer J.J. Putz, the clubhouse prankster, apparently decided after Tuesday night's doubleheader loss to the Rangers -- extending the Mariners' losing streak to five games -- that the team needed a new look. And he knew just what to do, although he would admit to doing nothing. "I got a phone call from J.J. about midnight asking me if I was a 'team player,'" McLaren said. "I told him that of course I was, and asked him why he was asking. He told me we were going to find out tomorrow because some of the guys might get a haircut. "I tried to throw out the idea that my hair doesn't grow back the way his does, but he didn't want to hear it." It took some lobbying, but McLaren finally agreed to visit the temporary barber's chair. The cuts ranged from "take it all off" Jose Vidro -- who came out of the room with a Buhner Buzz -- to Ben Broussard, who sported a Mohawk, which looked more peculiar than flattering. Wait 'til his wife sees it. Coaches Mike Goff, Carlos Garcia, Rafael Chaves and Gary Thurman participated in the "Big Cut," but John Moses and Jim Slaton didn't. Ichiro Suzuki already had a short hairdo, so he passed, as did Jeff Weaver, who will stand out among his teammates Thursday night at Safeco Field when he starts against the Athletics with his long, blond hair protruding from his cap. He did promise a teammate that if he wins the game, he'll join the short-hair club. Sexson, who had the longest hair on the team on Tuesday night, had almost no hair at all on Wednesday.
Hey, whatever works."It was a lot of fun, and the guys had a good time with it," McLaren said. Staying cool: The easy part of managing comes when the team is playing well and winning games. It's the tough times that test the mettle of a skipper, and less than three weeks on the job, McLaren already is faced with the first extended skid under his watch. "I always look for something positive," he said. "It's something I get from my grandfather." Mac was his usual upbeat self on Wednesday, wearing a smile and that nagging sling that holds his right arm at his side while his shoulder recovers from rotator cuff surgery. Even if he wanted to grab something and throw it, he couldn't do it. He could rant and rave, the way some managers do. Or he can keep his cool and wait for things to turn around. He prefers the latter. "If I go over the edge and lose control, then they're going to lose control," he said. "We need to focus on what we can do and get back to the basics. There's a lot of frustration here. We've got to get past it. "Patience is a virtue, and even with Lou [Piniella] sometimes, you knew when it was time and when it wasn't. When you have effort, it's hard to really get unglued. The guys are trying, and it's just not happening right now." The way McLaren handles himself inside the clubhouse before and after games, and in the dugout during games, has a definite impact on the players. "I look for confidence from the manager," Putz said. "He sets the tone for everyone, and I wouldn't want him to be walking around with his head down. I know Mac believes in this team and we believe in him." Not alone: Say what you want about the lack of production from Sexson, but he's just one of the scuffling hitters the Mariners have since the All-Star break. He was batting .205 at the break and is hitting .203 after 12 second-half games, going 7-for-39. Comparing other starters averages on July 8 and now: Ichiro (.359-.347); Raul Ibanez (.275-.258); Kenji Johjima (.292-.278); and Jose Lopez (.284-.268). They have gone a combined 37-for-205 for a .180 batting average. As for the "hot" hitters, Vidro has improved his average from .286 at the break to .307; while Jose Guillen (.283-.284), Yuniesky Betancourt (.271-.274); and Beltre (.277-.274) have held their own since the break. On deck: The Mariners begin an important 10-game homestand Thursday night against the Athletics. Weaver (2-8, 6.19) opposes Oakland ace Dan Haren (11-3, 2.41), who has lost twice to the Mariners this season, in the four-game series opener.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.