Wedge: 'Veterans have underachieved all year'

Wedge: 'Veterans have underachieved all year'

Wedge: 'Veterans have underachieved all year'
NEW YORK -- Manager Eric Wedge said Wednesday morning that a lack of veteran production has been the biggest problem for his Mariners club as it tailspinned through a losing streak that was at 17 games going into the afternoon's game against the Yankees.

"We've talked about the veterans all year long," Wedge said. "You can't expect the kids to lead you out of this. The veterans have to do this. At best, the veterans have underachieved all year long, with the exception of one or two guys. So that's where we are."

Seattle's first-year manager noted the number of experienced players who opened the season in key roles but have not lived up to expectations, mentioning Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins, Jack Cust and Franklin Gutierrez by name. Infielder Jack Wilson also opened the season in a starting role, but has since lost his place, and Milton Bradley was released completely.

"Look at our Opening Day lineup and you do the math. You know?" Wedge said. "But nobody cares. You either win or you lose, and that's what I have to understand and I do understand."

Wedge noted there's "a couple guys we can move forward with who are further along in their career," but otherwise the club needs to grow leadership from its young core of players as happened in his previous job in Cleveland.

"What we did there is what we'll need to do here," he said. "Because there isn't a great deal of leadership out there anymore with veteran guys for whatever reason, you have to develop it.

"The advantage I had in Cleveland, I was in their Minor League system and everybody knew what I was about before I got there. I come over here and everybody is new, not just me but the staff and everybody else," said Wedge. "So you have no idea what you're getting and it takes some time to figure out what you have. We were able to surprise some people early on, but you knew we were barely squeezing by. And you saw this tough stretch of games coming."

But Wedge said he didn't think his tough approach is why the team is struggling now.

"I don't know if that holds water because of what we did until 17 games ago," he said. "I haven't changed in the last 17 games. We were one of the best stories in baseball to that point and rightfully so, by comparison. But like I've said before, we weren't as good as that and we're not as bad as this."

General manager Jack Zduriencik agreed that many of the veterans have been a disappointment this year, though he pointed out shortstop Brendan Ryan and catcher Miguel Olivo as two bright spots.

Zduriencik said he's fully supportive of Wedge and the job he's doing, even in the face of the losing streak.

"Eric has done a great job. It's not easy," Zduriencik said. "I talk to him every day, we're together a lot and I respect what Eric has done. He's tried everything to make the right combination and make it all click. Sometimes you hit the perfect storm of everything that tends to go wrong.

"I think Eric has been a good leader. He's been very consistent with his demeanor. He's wearing it right now. It's tough on him, but he's done everything and he will continue to do a good job as we continue to go through this. He's the right man at the right time. It's just unfortunate we're going through what we're going through."