Seattle Mariners team president and CEO Kevin Mather issued an official apology on Sunday night following the surfacing of his wide-ranging comments to a rotary club earlier this month which included Mather calling the English-speaking capabilities of two members of the organization “terrible” and “not tremendous.”
Mather made the comments to a Bellevue, Washington rotary club back on February 5th, but were posted online over the weekend.
Mather also spoke about former Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who was hired earlier this year as a special assignment coach with the franchise, and remarked on Iwakuma’s need for a translator, also commenting on his English speaking skills.
“For instance, we just rehired Iwakuma; he was a pitcher with us for a number of years. Wonderful human being; his English was terrible,” Mather said. “He wanted to get back into the game; he came to us. We quite frankly want him as our Asian scout/interpreter, what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training.
“And I’m going to say, I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma ‘X,’ but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.”
Mather also commented on minor league outfielder Julio Rodriguez, who is considered one of the top prospects in the league, saying – “Julio Rodriguez has got a personality bigger than all of you combined. He is loud. His English is not tremendous.”
Mather made a host of other comments, speaking on team payroll and saying that top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert likely will not start the season with the team as a way to manipulate their major league service time and keep them under club control longer.
Mather, who has been with the Mariners organization since 1996, issued an apology on Sunday.
“I want to apologize to every member of the Seattle Mariners organization, especially our players and to our fans,” Mather said in an official statement. “There is no excuse for my behavior, and I take full responsibility for my terrible lapse in judgment.”
“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,” he added. “I am committed to make amends for the things I said that were personally hurtful and I will do whatever it takes to repair the damage I have caused to the Seattle Mariners organization.”