Seattle Mariners President and CEO Kevin Mather apologized Sunday evening after his sweeping comments on a Rotary club surfaced earlier this month, including describing the English speaking skills of two members of the organization as “terrible” and “not tremendous”.
Mather’s comments were made at a Rotary club in Bellevue, Washington, on February 5, and posted online over the weekend.
“I would like to apologize to every member of the Seattle Mariners organization, especially our players and fans,” Mather said in a statement. “There is no excuse for my behavior and I take full responsibility for my terrible misjudgment.”
“I’ve been on the phone for most of the day today, apologizing to the many people I recently insulted, hurt, or disappointed at an online event,” he added. “I am determined to make amends for the things I said that were personally hurtful and I will do everything I can to repair the damage I have done to the Seattle Mariners organization.”
Speaking to the Rotary club, Mather spoke about former Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who was hired as a special coach for the club in January, and his need for a translator and his English skills.
“For example, we just hired Iwakuma again. He was a pitcher with us for a couple of years. Wonderful person; his English was terrible,” Mather said. “He wanted to come back into the game; he came to us. We honestly want him as our Asian scout / interpreter on what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training.
“And I’ll say I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a gamer we paid Iwakuma ‘X’ but we would also have to pay $ 75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English became suddenly better. His English got better when we told him that. “
Speaking of minor league outfielder Julio Rodriguez, ranked number 9 in MLB by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, Mather said, “Julio Rodriguez has a personality that’s bigger than all of you put together. He’s loud. His English is Not.” enormously. “
Mather brought up the team’s payroll and observed the bottom line financial result. He said he believes the best prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert are unlikely to start the season with the team in order to manipulate their major league service and keep them under control of the club longer.
Mather said the club tried to sign Kelenic on a long-term contract and its efforts have been rejected.
Mather also said longtime third baseman Kyle Seager would be a future Mariners Hall of Famer, but was also “overpaid”. Seager is in the final year of his contract with the Mariners and will be the highest-paid player in Seattle at $ 18 million. His contract includes a club option for 2022.
Mather has been with the team since 1996. He was promoted to his current position in November 2017.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.