Kevin Mather resigned as CEO of the Seattle Mariners on Monday. Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais are doing damage control with players who were directly mentioned or referenced by former team CEO Kevin Mather in an online video that led to his resignation.

The message over the past two days to those affected has been: you have every right to be upset.

“We are very open with our players and urge them to be the same. And if they want to be angry, they should be, frankly. They should be insulted,” Dipoto said Tuesday. “But at the same time, they are collectively driven toward what we’re trying to do here as a team.”

The video posted over the weekend showed Mather expressing his views of the club’s organizational strategy and making controversial remarks about players during a recent online event. 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.

Mather apologized Sunday and then abruptly resigned the next day, but not before casting a pall over the organization as it began full squad workouts in Arizona.

Dipoto and Servais are both angry.

“I’m embarrassed that this is the way we’re viewed because for those of you who’ve been around me or Scott or this team, this is not how we’re wired,” Dipoto said. “It’s embarrassing to be categorized or deal with the stigma that we are now pinned with, and we have to shed it. It’s ours to bear and we now have to be accountable to that, and then find a way to grow beyond it.”

Seattle pitcher Marco Gonzales said Tuesday after the first full team workout that players are upset about the comments and annoyed by the distraction when they’d rather have the attention on the build-up toward the start of spring training games.

Gonzales said players are viewing Mather’s remarks as the views of someone “not close to us. He’s not here throwing a ball. He’s not here swinging a bat.”

“Sometimes a common goal can unite you, but sometimes a common enemy can do the same, if not greater,” Gonzales said. “So I think that’s the boat we’re in right now.”

Mather’s most inflammatory comments were about the English skills of former All-Star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and top prospect Julio Rodriguez and drew the strongest responses from Dipoto and Servais.

Servais referenced his winter baseball experiences in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and the Mariners’ season-opening trip to Japan two years ago.

“It’s an eyeopener. You really, really appreciate what foreign players have to go through. Not just communicating, but then trying to figure out how to play the game at the highest level,” Servais said. “So nobody has more appreciation for it than I do and it’s a subject I’m very sensitive to.”

Mather undermined strategy on the baseball side, admitting the team was possibly manipulating service time for top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert. Mather also divulged information about contract negotiations with Kelenic and pitcher James Paxton and called veteran Kyle Seager “overpaid.”

Mather drew the ire of the players’ association by saying neither Kelenic nor Gilbert would be with the major league club on Opening Day as a way to keep club control for longer.

Those comments in particular have been noticed around baseball and are part of the stigma Dipoto noted the Mariners will have to overcome.

“Every player should wake up and read the news on the guy with the Mariners,” said New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee. “Those conversions are being had in a lot of clubs, unfortunately, and that’s the kind of way a lot of clubs are acting. This guy is talking about players that are making him money. The product is the people that he’s talking poorly about. It’s just tired. It’s tired, man.”

Added Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge, “It’s saddening to hear those comments coming from a guy in that position. I think we’re all ears. It’s sad to see. I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what comes out this.”

Servais and Dipoto said decisions on Seattle’s roster have not been made and the plans for Kelenic and Gilbert have been laid out and communicated to both.

“All of our players are aware of what their path is, what their development plan looks like, and we’re very direct and how we share it,” Dipoto said.

Servais said he met with several players directly mentioned by Mather.

“I’d say that the temperature was very hot with a number of guys that certainly their names were mentioned for a number of different reasons,” Servais said. “It wasn’t surprising at all. But I feel very good about this group and I am proud of the way they’ve handled things so far. We could talk about this all day long and our players will continue to handle things the right way.”

RANGERS: Right-hander Ian Kennedy has signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, and will be in major league spring training with a chance to be compete for a spot in their bullpen.

New Rangers General Manager Chris Young, a former teammate of Kennedy’s in Kansas City, said Tuesday the 36-year-old Kennedy brings a veteran presence after playing for four different teams over 14 big league seasons.

Kennedy spent the past five seasons with Kansas City, where he made the transition from starter to reliever the past two years. He had his only 30 MLB saves in 2019, but was limited to one start and 14 relief appearances last season because of a left calf injury. Young and Kennedy were with the Royals together in 2016 and 2017.

In 290 starts and 79 relief appearances, Kennedy is 97-105 with a 4.13 ERA. He had a career-high 21 wins in 2011 for Arizona.

BRAVES: Atlanta finalized a $1 million, one-year contract with third baseman Jake Lamb that is not guaranteed, adding another veteran bat Tuesday to an already deep competition for bench spots in spring training.

Lamb, a 2017 All-Star with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was with the Braves for their first full-squad workout and will compete for a bench spot. He could provide insurance for Austin Riley, who is expected to start at third base. The 30-year-old Lamb joins Pablo Sandoval, Ehire Adrianza and Jason Kipnis as veterans who were added to compete for bench spots with Johan Camargo and others in spring training.

TIGERS: The Tigers announced their minor league contract with right-hander Julio Teheran on Tuesday.

Teheran, 30, will report to major league spring training. He was 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA last season with the Los Angeles Angels.

Teheran was an All-Star in 2014 and 2016 for the Atlanta Braves. His ERA was under 4.00 in both 2018 and 2019 with the Braves. He made at least 30 starts for seven straight years before last season was shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

YANKEES: Brett Gardner and the New York Yankees have finalized a $5.15 million, one-year contract for the outfielder to return for a 14th season.

New York also finalized its deal with left-hander Justin Wilson on Tuesday that also could be worth $5.15 million for two seasons.

Both deals are likely to be worth $4 million for one season but had complicated structures that could lower their 2021 evaluation for the luxury tax.

To clear roster spots, right-hander Luis Severino was put on the 60-day injured list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery last Feb. 27, and outfielder Greg Allen was designated for assignment.
Gardner gets a $1 million signing bonus and a $1.85 million salary this year. His agreement includes a $2.3 million player option for 2022. If Gardner declines the option, the Yankees would have a $7.15 million option for 2022 with a $1.15 million buyout.

The 37-year outfielder is the last player remaining from the Yankees’ last World Series title in 2009.

BREWERS: Travis Shaw, who played with the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs, is back in Milwaukee to give the Brewers one more option for their unsettled situation at third base.

The Brewers announced Shaw signed a minor league contract that includes an invitation to major league camp.

Shaw, who turns 31 on April 16, last played for the Brewers from 2017-19.

When the Brewers declined to offer him a contract after the 2019 season, Shaw spent 2020 with the Toronto Blue Jays and hit .239 with a .306 on-base percentage, six homers, 17 RBI and a .717 OPS in 50 games.

After slumping in August, Shaw rebounded to bat .270 with an .821 OPS in September.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.