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Chuck Armstrong, the team’s usually talkative and available president, and team chairman Howard Lincoln were in the back of the room as Zduriencik spoke _ but rushed out after he was done. A team spokesman sternly said “We’re done” when The Associated Press tried to approach the franchise’s leaders for comment.

Wakamatsu is a former bench coach for the Athletics and Rangers and longtime coach in the Angels system. He had guided Seattle to an 85-77 record in his first season, after taking over a team that went 61-101 in 2008.

Asked if the franchise is now back to square one, Suzuki said: “That’s the only way we can look at it.”

Zduriencik disagreed.

“I don’t think we are back to ‘square zero,’” the GM said, fittingly going even lower. “However, this season presented an opportunity for us. In that opportunity, a lot of things had to fall into place _ with the acquisition of Cliff Lee, with the addition of Chone Figgins, and players I thought had to have good seasons.

“To look around and see so many players having subpar seasons is very disturbing.”

Wakamatsu watched Griffey slump this season to the point the manager finally benched him. Griffey then drove home in early June to retirement in Florida in a huff without saying goodbye to most in Seattle. The manager sent an irate Bradley home from a game in May, and the next day Bradley asked him and the GM for help dealing with emotional issues.

Wakamatsu has also had multiple public spats with Figgins, whom Zduriencik signed to a $36 million free-agent contract before the season. The most recent incident was an in-game fracas of shouting, shoving and infielder Jose Lopez getting his jersey pulled over his back. That happened inside the home team’s dugout in full view of half the stadium and a national television audience.

Asked for his reaction to Wakamatsu’s firing, Figgins smiled, shook his head and politely said, “I’m not going to talk about it, man.”

Roger Hansen, who had been the Mariners‘ minor league catching coordinator, takes over as the bench coach. Carl Willis, Seattle’s minor league pitching coordinator, takes on the responsibility of big-league pitching coach.

Wakamatsu, the majors’ first Japanese-American manager, is the fifth manager in the majors to be fired this season. Baltimore’s Dave Trembley, Kansas City’s Trey Hillman, Arizona’s A.J. Hinch and Florida’s Fredi Gonzalez also were dismissed.

Beyond Lee, the now-traded former AL Cy Young winner, and speedy infielder Figgins, Zduriencik also brought in slugger Milton Bradley in the offseason. But the roster has proven to be poorly constructed. Seattle has the worst offense in baseball while doomed to 22 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in the AL West entering Monday.

Wakamatsu was asked last week by the AP how he was doing amid rampant speculation that he would become Seattle’s fall guy.

“I’ll be all right,” the 47-year-old Wakamatsu said. “I’ve been in this game a long time, and I have a lot of people pulling for me _ most of all my family.”

He went 127-147 since getting Seattle’s job in November 2008. His .464 winning percentage is fifth-best among the Mariners managers.

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