Players take blame for McLaren's firing

Players take blame for McLaren's firing

ATLANTA -- Jim Riggleman said that the Seattle Mariners "just have to toughen up a little bit."

The interim manager does not feel, however, that he inherited a fractured clubhouse that needs to be brought back together.

"I've been around teams where there was some envy or jealousy or whatever," Riggleman said on Friday before his first game leading the Mariners. "But, really, I don't see that as an issue or a problem. It might be an issue, but that's not why we have been losing ballgames."

With the Mariners struggling so badly, everyone is searching for answers. The general manager is gone. So is the manager. Their replacements may not last past the rest of the season.

Riggleman has the remainder of 2008 to turn things around and maybe keep his job. Interim general manager Lee Pelekoudas' future is also on the line.

"The better we play and the more we work, the better chance there is for everybody to stay," Riggleman said.

Riggleman, who managed the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs, brings a different personality to the job than ousted manager John McLaren.

That may make a difference, even if his baseball philosophy is little different from McLaren.

"He's very mellow," said reliever Miguel Batista, who played for Riggleman in Chicago.

"Mac's a little more intense," first baseman Richie Sexson said. "Riggs is never going to get too loud. Whether you are going good or bad, you're going to get the same voice."

Sexson played for the Cleveland Indians when Riggleman was a coach there.

"We got a good one -- Riggs is going to be great," Sexson said. "Sometimes a change can be good."

But that doesn't mean that Sexson wasn't saddened to see McLaren, who had stood by him during a trying season, dismissed.

"We're all disappointed," Sexson said. "There's obviously a lot of stuff going around right now. As players, we feel responsible when people get fired.

"We didn't perform, so the axe had to come down on someone. It's too bad it was [McLaren]. We feel bad for him. It was more us than him."

Batista added: "This is a results business, so someone has to pay the price [when you lose]."

No Mariners players would admit to any major problems in the clubhouse, although nobody likes losing.

"I have never seen a physical confrontation in the two years that I've been here," Batista said. "When there are problems, those things happen."

"To my knowledge, there was only one incident and that was a long time ago," said starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn. "It was taken care of and put in the past."

Still, an already long season will get even more difficult if the Mariners don't stop their free fall.

"We're going to try to get back to .500," Sexson said. "Every team has to have a goal."

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.