Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge will not return next season, the team announced Friday. Mariners executive vice president and general manager Jack Zduriencik issued a statement saying, "I accept Eric's decision not to return and thank him for his hard work here the past three years. I want to wish him and his family all the best in the future."
Wedge, 45, suffered a mild stroke on July 22, and that may have played a role in his decision not to try to cope with the stress of managing a major league team, particularly one as mired in a rebuilding phase as the Mariners, who are in the process of completing their fifth losing season in six years, fourth in a row and third under Wedge. The team made its last postseason appearance under Lou Piniella in 2001.
Prior to joining the Mariners, Wedge managed the Cleveland Indians from 2003-09, twice winning more than 90 games and capturing the AL Central crown in 2007. That team advanced to the League Championship Series but lost in seven games to the Boston Red Sox, despite taking a 3-1 series lead. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series.
If a stroke was indeed the determining factor in Wedge's decision, then it adds to a career which has seen more than its share of "might have been." A star of the College World Series, Wedge was drafted by the Red Sox in 1989 and established himself as a top prospect. He was drafted away from his original team by the Colorado Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft. Wedge was never able to capitalize on the opportunity due to injuries, and he began managing in the Cleveland system as a 30-year-old in 1998. Add in a 2007 Manager of the Year citation, which was followed two years later by dismissal, and you have the picture of a thwarted career.
Wedge will manage the Mariners through this weekend's season-ending series and fulfill the remainder of his contract, which expires on Oct. 31.