SEATTLE – Slimmer and looking relaxed, Eric Wedge returned to the first day of the rest of his career vowing to remain in control – of his job managing the Mariners again, but also of his life.
Wedge vividly recalled the day he lost control a month earlier, suffering a stroke while watching the team take batting practice.
“I really wasn’t scared,’’ Wedge told media members before Friday night’s game. “I was confused. Something overtook my body that I didn’t have any control over. It was the first time I felt like I’d lost control. First, in my head, then in my legs. Then the eyesight comes into play.”
Now that he’s back in control, managing the team Friday in a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, Wedge insisted he’ll do anything required to stay that way. And that includes altering the way he handles some of his tasks, saying he needs to avoid the all-consuming, stress-inducing approach he previously took with relatively minor endeavors.
“I think I’ve got one hell of a reminder now,’’ Wedge, 45, said of his need to curb his perfectionist tendencies. “I’ve got a great reference point here. I did not like not being in control. And I didn’t have it there for a couple days. And that’s one hell of a scary feeling.”
So, he’ll force himself not to sweat the small stuff as much. There’s only so much in-game stress a manager can control, like the frustration of Felix Hernandez throwing six innings of three-hit ball, only to have one of them drilled over the left-field wall by Chris Nelson for a two-run homer in the second inning.
A crowd of 21,616 at Safeco Field saw the Mariners limited to four hits by Angels starter Garrett Richards, who got double-play grounders to end the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He then got the first out of the eighth inning on a grounder that struck him on the right forearm as it went by.
Richards left the game from there with a contusion, but the Angels’ bullpen got the final five outs to preserve his victory. Seattle fell nine games under .500, three below where they were July 22, when Wedge suffered the stroke and bench coach Robby Thompson took over.
Wedge said the in-game part is the most fun aspect of managing. It’s the stuff before and after he wants to obsess over less when it comes to small details.
But some of the best advice he received the past month, from among thousands of well-wishers, was to take care of himself first.
“That will allow you to take care of others,” he said.