Seattle Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais are doing damage control with players who were directly mentioned or referenced by former team CEO Kevin Mather in an online video that led to his resignation.
The message over the past two days to those affected has been: you have every right to be upset.
“We are very open with our players and urge them to be the same. And if they want to be angry, they should be, frankly. They should be insulted,” Dipoto said Tuesday. “But at the same time, they are collectively driven toward what we’re trying to do here as a team.”
The video posted over the weekend showed Mather expressing his views of the club’s organizational strategy and making controversial remarks about players during a recent online event. He took insensitive shots at a former All-Star from Japan and a top prospect from the Dominican Republic for their English skills. He also admitted the team may be manipulating service time for some of its young players.
Mather apologized Sunday and then abruptly resigned the next day, but not before casting a pall over the organization as it began full squad workouts in Arizona.
Dipoto and Servais are both angry.
“I’m embarrassed that this is the way we’re viewed because for those of you who’ve been around me or Scott or this team, this is not how we’re wired,” Dipoto said. “It’s embarrassing to be categorized or deal with the stigma that we are now pinned with, and we have to shed it. It’s ours to bear and we now have to be accountable to that, and then find a way to grow beyond it.”
Mather’s most inflammatory comments were about the English skills of former All-Star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and top prospect Julio Rodriguez and drew the strongest responses from Dipoto and Servais.
Mather undermined strategy on the baseball side, admitting that the team was possibly manipulating service time for top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert. Mather also divulged information about contract negotiations with Kelenic and pitcher James Paxton and called veteran Kyle Seager “overpaid.”
Mather drew the ire of the MLB Players Association by saying neither Kelenic and Gilbert would be with the major league club on opening day as a way to keep club control for longer. But Servais and Dipoto said decisions on the roster have not been made and that the plans for Kelenic and Gilbert have been laid out and communicated to both.
RANGERS: Right-hander Ian Kennedy has signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, and will be in major league spring training with a chance to be compete for a spot in their bullpen.
New Rangers General Manager Chris Young, a former teammate of Kennedy’s in Kansas City, said Tuesday the 36-year-old Kennedy brings a veteran presence after playing for four different teams over 14 big league seasons.
Kennedy spent the past five seasons with Kansas City, where he made the transition from starter to reliever the past two years. He had his only 30 MLB saves in 2019, but was limited to one start and 14 relief appearances last season because of a left calf injury. Young and Kennedy were with the Royals together in 2016 and 2017.
In 290 starts and 79 relief appearances, Kennedy is 97-105 with a 4.13 ERA. He had a career-high 21 wins in 2011 for Arizona.
BRAVES: Atlanta finalized a $1 million, one-year contract with third baseman Jake Lamb that is not guaranteed, adding another veteran bat Tuesday to an already deep competition for bench spots in spring training.
Lamb, a 2017 All-Star with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was with the Braves for their first full-squad workout and will compete for a bench spot. He could provide insurance for Austin Riley, who is expected to start at third base. The 30-year-old Lamb joins Pablo Sandoval, Ehire Adrianza and Jason Kipnis as veterans who were added to compete for bench spots with Johan Camargo and others in spring training.
TIGERS: The Tigers announced their minor league contract with right-hander Julio Teheran on Tuesday.
Teheran, 30, will report to major league spring training. He was 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA last season with the Los Angeles Angels.
Teheran was an All-Star in 2014 and 2016 for the Atlanta Braves. His ERA was under 4.00 in both 2018 and 2019 with the Braves. He made at least 30 starts for seven straight years before last season was shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.