Saturday, May 1, 2010
Byrnes not talking about botched bunt
SEATTLE -- A day after watching Eric Byrnes botch a potential game-winning squeeze bunt and then tear out of the Mariners clubhouse on an 8-speed beach cruiser bike, Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu still wasn't happy with the result.
That didn't keep him from taking a playful shot at his reserve outfielder.
"He was using all eight [speeds] yesterday," Wakamatsu joked before Saturday's game.
Byrnes still wasn't talking about the blown squeeze attempt in the 11th inning of Seattle's 2-0 loss to Texas in 12 innings on Friday night in Cliff Lee's sterling Seattle debut.
With one out and the bases loaded in the 11th, Byrnes inexplicably pulled back on a squeeze attempt as Ichiro Suzuki raced down the line from third base. Texas catcher Matt Treanor briefly lost the ball, but regained his grasp in time to tag Suzuki with the second out of the inning.
Byrnes then froze, striking out looking at a 1-2 fastball to end Seattle's chance.
"He said, and looking at the tape, the ball was down and away and he went to it and didn't think he could get to it," Wakamatsu said. "In hindsight he thought he should have thrown the bat at it instead of pulling back."
But then Byrnes' night got even more wacky. He bolted out the front door of the clubhouse riding his bicycle mere minutes after the game ended. He made a right turn down a tunnel and then made a 90-degree left turn around approaching Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik before he could make eye contact.
Wakamatsu didn't speak with Byrnes after the game about his blown bunt attempt, but did talk to him Saturday morning. Wakamatsu didn't find fault in Byrnes immediately bolting.
"He's the ultimate competitor and he was probably as disappointed as anybody and that affected him," Wakamatsu said. "He's passionate and he cares about this club and he doesn't get a lot of opportunity to play and when he's in there he wants to help us win. He knew ... getting that down wins us a ball game and he didn't get it done."
The blown chance by Byrnes highlights Seattle's struggles with situational hitting.
Wakamatsu noted before Saturday's game that Seattle's offense has to be nearly perfect considering its deficiencies. Seattle's hitting just .251 with runners in scoring position and ranks 11th or lower in the American League in 11 statistical offensive categories. It is last in home runs and slugging percentage.
"One thing with our offense is we have to be perfect in a lot of ways, and situational hitting is one that shows up critical," Wakamatsu said. "Obviously we're trying to address those right now."