Mariners change front office structure after Mather

T-Mobile Park
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PEORIA, Ariz. — The Seattle Mariners will change the structure of their front office operations following the resignation of former team president and CEO Kevin Mather.

Mariners chairman John Stanton told reporters at the team’s training facility in Arizona on Wednesday that the club will separate its baseball and business operations. General manager Jerry Dipoto will report to Stanton directly on baseball-related matters, while a new team president will oversee the business side of the operations.

Stanton said the team is in no rush to hire a president.

“As I looked around, I talked to a number of people in baseball, including the commissioner, who said, frankly, if my partners and I are willing to commit to this that it’s a better structure for a lot of reasons,” Stanton said.

Mather resigned on Feb. 22 after video from an online event surfaced where he expressed his views of the club’s organizational strategy and made controversial remarks about players. 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.

Stanton said the team is finalizing severance for Mather, who will not hold any stake in ownership of the club moving forward.

“We did damage to the trust in the relationship between our front office and our fans and the community and we need to rebuild that trust,” Stanton said.

While Dipoto has had control over baseball-related decisions, he’ll now have a more direct line to ownership. Dipoto’s contract is up after this season and Stanton said he’s pleased with the moves that have been made during the club’s rebuilding.

Stanton also said the team continues to work with health officials in the hope of having some fans at T-Mobile Park on April 1 when the Mariners open the season hosting San Francisco.

“We right now are hopeful that we will have fans in the building. We are excited about that. And we’re planning for it. We’re training our staff and doing all the things that we need to do to be able to accommodate them,” Stanton said. “Ultimately, it’ll be a decision by the governor and by the state as to whether we can do that. As I say, we’re very hopeful.”

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.