Mariners President Kevin Mather Apologizes for Remarks on Seattle Players, More

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2021

Seattle Mariners president Kevin Mather stands on the field before a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Seattle Mariners president Kevin Mather apologized Sunday after comments he made to the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club on a number of topics drew widespread criticism.

"My comments were my own," Mather said. "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.

"I've been on the phone most of the day today apologizing to the many people I have insulted, hurt, or disappointed in speaking at a recent online event."

Lookout Landing's Grant Bronsdon and Kate Preusser shared a full transcript from Mather's appearance. His most inflammatory remarks were arguably centered on former starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and Julio Rodriguez, whom MLB.com ranks as the fifth-best prospect in baseball.

Mather expressed frustration with how the Mariners paid $75,000 for an interpreter to help the Japanese-born Iwakuma deal with the language barrier. He said Iwakuma's English "suddenly got better" when informed the team wouldn't pay to have an interpreter work with him upon returning to the organization in a support role.

Mather went on to call Rodriguez "loud" and said his English "is not tremendous." Others who have encountered the 20-year-old painted a different picture:

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Rodriguez appeared to reference the situation on social media:

He wasn't the only centerpiece of the Mariners' future Mather spoke of in somewhat critical terms.

Mather said Seattle offered a long-term contract to Jarred Kelenic that extended beyond the team's six years of control. Kelenic, who's fourth on MLB.com's top prospects list, turned down the deal, and Mather implied the Mariners would manipulate his service time by keeping him in the minors to open the 2021 season.

The heat Mather is presently facing is unlikely to go away because of his apology.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal argued he "needs to be fired by the time you read this" and that "there is no turning back from this nonsense."