The Mariners are going to be without skipper Eric Wedge for at least the next 10 days. He's out of the hospital but not back with the team following a minor stroke this week.
Taking It Seriously
The Mariners describe it as a "very mild stroke." But it's something they're taking very seriously, says KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel.
"The fact that they're keeping him out through this weekend's home series and also next week's road trip to Boston and Baltimore tells me that they really do want to be cautious and see what else plays out before he's reevaluated on Aug. 5," Art said.
'Unusual' to Happen So Young
Art spoke with Dr. David Tirschwell, co-director of the UW Medicine Stroke Center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. A point of concern is Wedge's age. "It is a little disconcerting from the standpoint that Eric is only 45 years old," Art said. "The doctor told me that that is unusual - not terribly unusual, but it's something they want to monitor very carefully."
Impact to Team
Art says players appear to be fond of Wedge. "I think there's some affection for Eric in the clubhouse." He says being a manager is very stressful, difficult work. "I think Wedge has done a good job of being honest and direct and forthcoming to all of his players, and they all appreciate that," Art said. "He has to deliver bad news a lot of times and sometimes they resent him for it. But I do think there's genuine affection for the guy and concern for his health."
Fill-in 'Capable' but Inexperienced
Art says interim manager Robby Thompson is capable but has never been a manager. "I think there will be things in games that Thompson will miss. But he's got a capable crew of coaches. I think they'll pull it together. I don't know that there's going to be a strategic impact. And Wedge is certainly going to be in touch with the team on a daily basis by phone."
Bright Side: Team Playing Well
The Mariners are coming off of an eight-game winning streak. And young players like catcher Mike Zunino, shortstop Brad Miller and 2nd baseman Nick Franklin are doing really well. If they keep it up, and if sluggers Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales continue to be strong at the plate, Art says he's optimistic.
"I suspect the team could get close to .500. I don't see a postseason in this crowd. But I do see an improved team that's going to be compelling for next season."