Had a chance to chat with Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik on a sun-splashed field at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon. Here’s our Q&A:
We’re about at the quarter pole of the season. What are you thoughts up to this point?) “So much of what happens depends on health. You start out a year where some guys are hurt, some guys struggle early on, you have other parts of the year suddenly guys get hot, the weather starts warming up … to me, (health is) the biggest thing. With our young guys, still fairly young, it’s about watching our guys develop and produce. When you bring in — like we brought in several news players — it takes some time for them to all get to know and understand each other. I think we’ve played pretty good lately. The last four series have been pretty good for us. We just want to continue to get better. Who knows what will happen?”
How concerned are you with the back-end of the rotation?) “I think everybody in baseball, when you start looking at the back of anyone’s rotation, starting pitching is a premium in our game. If you have an injury or two in there, it stresses you a little bit. I was very pleased with Aaron Harang’s outing in Pittsburgh, he did a real nice job there. Joe Saunders had the good outing at home and Brandon Maurer is still developing, he’s a young kid. You’re starting to look at the veteran guys to get in a groove and someone like Maurer just continue to grow.”
Do you need to make a change with the Ryan/Andino combo? What do you make of that?) “Brendan, you would like to see him do better. We all would. He would, as well. We know he’s superior defensively. The amount of runs that he saves tells me he’s the best defensive player in the game of baseball. That said, you certainly would like him to get in a groove and have a lot more offense. Right now, he’s contributing very well defensively.”
That’s the one thing I think, you’ll see in the game. Sometimes offense affects defense and defense affects offense. I think in his case, he’s been so good defensively and saves so many runs, it’s almost like an RBI.”
When Zduriencik was told that manager Eric Wedge contends that Ryan’s offense is certainly not the key to the offense and people can misconstrue it that way, he said, “That’s exactly right.”
We also talked about a couple Minor League guys, namely Taijuan Walker, and Zduriencik was hesitant to comment. He did say, as he has in the past, he doesn’t want to put a distinct timeline for movement through the organization on any young player.