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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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June 20, 2008 11:34 AM

McLaren speaks, speaks of clubhouse tension

Posted by Larry Stone

Larry Stone here in Atlanta, filling in for Geoff on this road trip.

Just got off a fascinating half-hour conference call with John McLaren. He was classy, thanking virtually everyone in the organization,and didn't seem bitter at all; just bitterly disappointed.

However, about 10 minutes in, he began talking about clubhouse issues that he felt were undermining the team. Nothing specific, but he said he wantedtto put it out there in hopes that the team can come together and solve the problems. We can all speculate about what specifically he's referring to, but I can't say that I know for sure, yet.

Here are some of the quotes:

"I think we have a good group of guys. I think there's a little tension and friction in there, a little jealousy. That's for those guys to work out on their own. We (the coaching staff) tried to, and we weren't very successful. I think they have to do that on their own.

"Let me say this, and I want to make this crystal clear: The only reason I mentioned that is not to deter any criticism for myself, but to make this team better. If they can get in that room and work some issues out, I think they'll be better off. I care about those guys. I think they're good people. This is a team sport. They play as a team extremely well, they pull for each other, but I think there are some issues in there, if they take care of them, will get them a lot closer to where they need to go than they are now.

"There were times we weren't hitting and pitching well. At one point, I think it got a little divided,pitchers against hitters. There was tension because they tried too hard. If I could put my finger on one thing, I think some of the hitters tried too hard."

Here's what McLaren had to say about Richie Sexson, when asked if a change of scenery would do him good:

"That's a good question. I would think if he thought about it. that would be a possibilityh for him, to have a fresh start. It looks like this new stance is starting to show some possibilities. Change takes time. Richie is another one who tries so hard, and it kind of works against him.

"I like Richie a lot. It's hard to put a finger on what happened. In spring training, he worked hard. If you watch him play the game, he's playing really hard. I watch him take his position, and he's really bearing down. He needs to reach a relaxed stage. I don't know if he'll be able to do that with everyone looking at him and all the speculation. He's still strong. It makes you wonder, if he gets a fresh start someplace else, it wouldn't be better for him.''

To summarize his answer: Yes.

I've got to head for the ballpark, where a colleague who's out there already tells me that the Mariners, virtually en masse, have been working out since 2:30 at Turner Field. Sounds like Riggle-Ball has begun!

Talk amongst yourselves.

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