Wedge stresses value of final month in meeting

Wedge stresses value of final month in meeting

Wedge stresses value of final month in meeting
SEATTLE -- First-year Mariners manager Eric Wedge held a team meeting before Monday's batting practice. His message: Though his team isn't vying for a playoff spot, the season is not over by any means.

"I just wanted to talk to them about how we have 30 games left and just reinforce just how important the length of the season is and how important every game is," Wedge said. "And it was about what we're playing for here. Every game means something. Every game counts for something. Every game is a part of who you are and what you'll eventually be."

Sure, the Mariners are 56-76 and 18 1/2 games back in the American League West. But that doesn't mean there isn't something to gain and respect from every ballgame.

"When I talk about respecting the game, I'm talking about respecting the length of the season," Wedge said. "Even though we're not in it, every game does mean something. It's about respecting Major League Baseball, respecting the Seattle Mariners and respecting the teams that we're playing that are in it. Because sooner or later, when we're playing for something in September, having gone through something like this -- albeit secondary -- it'll help us."

While it may not help in terms of getting more wins, the young Mariners will get a chance to play several games down the stretch against teams that are in the playoff race. Including Monday night's bout, they'll face the Angels six more times, AL West-leading Texas six times and the New York Yankees three times.

Veteran Jack Wilson has been through numerous team meetings. He said that anytime your team is out of the pennant race, it's good to be reminded again of what playing late in the season means for the future.

"Anytime you come to this part of the season and mathematically you're kind of out of it, you want to make sure that you have a month left of the season and people understand that what you're doing right now is trying to win games, but you're also going out there for a 2012 job," Wilson said.

But it's not just about preparing for the future, the 33-year-old veteran said. It's about realizing the fact that you're still a privileged Major League ballplayer.

"It's very easy to get comfortable here," he said. "For the young guys, it's to make sure they know that every day you've got to still work hard with a lot of heart, because getting here is tough, but staying here is tougher.

"It's just reiterating that and respecting the game and respecting the fact that you're wearing a big league uniform. You are representing the city of Seattle, you should be proud of that and respect the fact that you're doing so."

It's been tough for Wedge to juggle the lineup every day and give different players opportunities to prove themselves. The Mariners have had 10 players make their big league debut this season, which is the highest in the Majors this season. There are 12 rookies on the 25-man roster.

The gray area between winning games in August and September and letting players gain game experience and opportunities is something Wedge is forced to deal with. On Monday, he reiterated that winning is still and will always be the most important thing the Mariners do.

"I just think it's important for all our of fans and everybody to know that our job each and every day, first and foremost, is to come out here and win this game today," Wedge said. "Everything is second to that.

"But because of where we are as an organization and what we're trying to build here, to give opportunity to young players, to continue to get some of our veteran guys that we're counting on going in the right direction, and quite frankly evaluating as we move forward, that's important."