Mariners president Kevin Mather apologizes for comments

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Seattle Mariners CEO and team president Kevin Mather apologized late Sunday night for comments made during a recent online event where he expressed opinions about organizational strategy, personnel moves and club finances.

Mather’s comments came in a speech to the Bellevue, Washington, Breakfast Rotary Club on Feb. 5 and were posted online over the weekend.

“I want to apologize to every member of the Seattle Mariners organization, especially our players and to our fans. There is no excuse for my behavior, and I take full responsibility for my terrible lapse in judgment,” Mather’s statement said. “My comments were my own. They do not reflect the views and strategy of the Mariners baseball leadership who are responsible for decisions about the development and status of the players at all levels of the organization.”

Mather continued, saying he’d been on the phone most of the day Sunday apologizing after the video was posted to YouTube and quickly drew attention on social media.

The Mariners are expected to release a statement Monday.

“I am committed to make amends for the things I said that were personally hurtful and I will do whatever it takes to repair the damage I have caused to the Seattle Mariners organization,” Mather said.

The video posted by the Rotary group was 46 minutes long and touched on areas of the Mariners’ organizational situation going into the 2021 season – many of which Seattle’s front office would rather not be made public.

Mather addressed the team’s payroll and watching the financial bottom line. He said he believed top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert likely will not start the season with the team as a way to manipulate their major league service time and keep them under club control longer.

Mather said the club attempted to sign Kelenic to a long-term contract and was rebuffed in its efforts.

“Jarred Kelenic, we’ve been talking about him for a year and a half now, he will be in left field in April,” Mather said. “He’s a 21-year-old player who is quite confident. We offered him a long-term deal – a six-year deal for substantial money with options to go farther. After pondering it for several days and talking to the union, he has turned us down. And in his words, he’s going to bet on himself. He thinks after six years he’s going to be such a star player that the seventh-, eighth-, ninth-year options will be undervalued. He might be right. We offered, and he turned us down.”

Mather also commented on another top prospect, Julio Rodriguez.

“Julio Rodriguez has got a personality bigger than all of you combined,” Mather said. “He is loud. His English is not tremendous. Everybody says he’ll be here in 2021. He won’t be here till 2022 or 2023. A fantastic kid.”

Mather said longtime third baseman Kyle Seager would be a future Mariners Hall of Famer but also was “overpaid.” Seager is in the final year of his contract with the Mariners and will be Seattle’s highest-paid player at $18 million. His contract includes a club option for 2022.

And Mather made disparaging comments about former pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who recently rejoined the team as a special assignment coach.

“Wonderful human being – his English was terrible. He wanted to get back into the game, he came to us, we quite frankly want him as our Asian scout/interpreter, what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training,” Mather said. “And I’m going to say, I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma `X,’ but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.”

Mather has been with the Mariners since 1996. He was promoted to CEO and team president in 2017.

Zack Britton’s season over, TJ surgery comeback out of time

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Zack Britton‘s season is over, his comeback from Tommy John surgery cut short after just three relief appearances for the New York Yankees.

New York put the 34-year-old left-hander on the 60-day injured list and selected the contract of right-hander Jacob Barnes from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Britton was removed after throwing a tiebreaking wild pitch in a 2-1 loss to Baltimore, an outing that lasted just nine pitches. The two-time All-Star had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 8, 2021, and made eight minor league injury rehabilitation appearances starting Aug. 24 and three big league appearances beginning Sept. 24. He threw 36 pitches to nine batters with a 13.50 ERA, six walks and one strikeout.

“Kind of running out of time here and having a little bit of fatigue last night, it’s like one of those things, you don’t want to power through that and reach for more and then do some damage as you’re coming back,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”

Britton had hoped to be able to help the Yankees in the postseason. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

“It’s just that final sharpness,” Boone said. “At this point in the season, just kind of up against it there. But he worked his tail off to put himself in this position and give himself an opportunity and certainly admire that.”

Barnes, 32, started the season with Detroit and was released on June 18 after going 3-1 with a 6.10 ERA in 22 relief appearances. He struck out 10 and walked nine in 20 2/3 innings.

Barnes signed a minor league contract with Seattle, made four relief appearances for Triple-A Tacoma, then was brought up by the Mariners and designated for assignment two days later without playing in a game. He refused an outright assignment, signed back with the Tigers and made five appearances at Triple-A Toledo. Released by the Mud Hens, he signed with Scranton on Aug. 30 and had a 2.25 ERA in 10 games for the RailRiders.

Boone said reliever Clay Holmes will not go on the IL after receiving a cortisone injection for inflammation in his right rotator cuff. If the Yankees had put Holmes on the IL, he would not be available for the Division Series.

After playing his first game since Sept. 4 and going 0 for 3, DJ LeMahieu said his injured right second toe felt fine. He is in a 2-for-41 slide.

“It felt good to play again,” LeMahieu said. “I felt like a baseball player.”

Matt Carpenter, sidelined since breaking his left toot on Aug. 8, ran on the field and will be among players reporting to training camp for Double-A Somerset, where there will be eight or nine pitchers. Boone anticipates Carpenter being available for the postseason as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter.

Right-hander Frankie Montas, sidelined since Sept. 16 by inflammation in his pitching shoulder, has resumed throwing.

“I don’t know about the Division Series,” Boone said, “more likely beyond.”