Silence enveloped the Mariners clubhouse in the moments after the delivery of stunning news that overshadowed the end of the club’s eight-game winning streak.
The Mariners were told immediately after a 10-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday that manager Eric Wedge had suffered a mild stroke. Wedge, 45, had been hospitalized since suffering dizzy spells during batting practice on Monday.
He will miss at least the next three series while he recovers at home.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik delivered the news to the team, then addressed the media without taking any questions.
“We expect a complete recovery,’’ Zduriencik said. “So, what he needs to do is just stay home for the next short period of time. We expect him to be back sooner rather than later. He’s excited. Like I’ve said, he sounds normal. You talk to him and it sounds like everything’s fine and he’s ready to roll. But again, we’re going to err on the side of caution. I think the common-sense thing is just to have Eric rest, and it makes sense that he won’t take this trip to the East Coast.’’
The Mariners head to Boston and Baltimore next week after a home series against Minnesota. Once they return, Wedge will be re-evaluated and a decision will be made as to when he can manage. For now, bench coach Robby Thompson will continue to manage the team as he has since Monday.
Thompson took his first managerial loss Wednesday in a game that was over almost as soon as it began. Mariners starter Joe Saunders struggled with his command early, fell behind 4-1, then watched relief pitcher Hector Noesi serve up a grand slam to Michael Bourn in the fifth that put the game away for good.
Noesi allowed an additional home run in the sixth — a solo shot by Asdrubal Cabrera — on a day his team managed just two hits total and scored its only run via a throwing error.
Indians starter Scott Kazmir threw with far better velocity than he did two months ago, when the Mariners roughed him up in Cleveland. Kazmir allowed only a Justin Smoak single over seven innings while striking out seven and walking a pair to silence an afternoon crowd of 25,688 at Safeco Field.
Thompson said afterward his players simply need to forget about the game and move forward. But putting the game behind them might be far easier than getting over the news about Wedge.
“Any situation like that that arises, there is concern,’’ Thompson said. “And we’re just going to put our hearts and thoughts and prayers into him, (his wife) Kate, and their extended families. You know, he’s a strong and determined man. And like Jack (Zduriencik) said, he will be back sooner than later.’’
Thompson said he’s more concerned about Wedge than running the team in his absence.
“We will continue focusing on our job as a staff, and their job in that clubhouse as players — which we hit on a little bit during the (postgame) meeting,’’ Thompson said. “They’ll bounce back, they’ll think about it tonight and say their prayers and come back in tomorrow. They did a great job with an eight-game winning streak. They’ve played very well, they’ve played very hard, they’ve played good baseball.
“We’ll throw this one out the window and hopefully start it again tomorrow.’’
Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said the players took the news hard.
“That’s scary stuff,’’ he said. “You don’t want to see that happen to anybody. He’s a tough guy, but you don’t want anybody to hurry with something like that. He should come back in his own time.’’
Smoak said the players are all worried about Wedge and hope he’s doing well.
“Wedge is a big strong man and he’ll get through this,’’ Smoak said. “And we’ll be glad to have him back healthy and ready to go here in a week or so.’’
Smoak said the team has “a lot of young guys, and he’s stuck with us for a long time now. He’s going to get through this, and we’re all looking forward to having him back.’’