Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Seattle Mariners President and CEO Kevin Mather resigned Monday, a day after "inappropriate" comments he made about team employees while speaking in front of a Rotary Club earlier this month surfaced online.
Mariners Chairman John Stanton said in a statement Monday that he was "extremely disappointed" when he learned of Mather's controversial comments, which were made to a Bellevue, Wash., Rotary Club on Feb. 5. Mather's remarks were posted online over the weekend and caused widespread backlash.
"His comments were inappropriate and do not represent our organization's feelings about our players, staff, and fans," Stanton said. "There is no excuse for what was said, and I won't try to make one.
"I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We must be, and do, better. We have a lot of work to do to make amends, and that work is already underway."
Stanton said Mather's resignation is effective immediately, with Stanton taking on the roles of President and CEO on an interim basis. Stanton said Mather stepped down before a decision was made whether to fire him.
"There were a number of comments made by Kevin that, as I've said, didn't reflect the Mariners, don't reflect what I believe, what our ownership believes, and were inappropriate," Stanton said.
"Those comments included some of the things that have been referenced with respect to our players, and in particular the importance of diversity and inclusion in our organization."
In his comments to the Rotary Club, Mather spoke about former Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma -- hired earlier this year as a special assignment coach with the team -- and his need for a translator because of his English skills.
Mather then demeaned the English skills of Minor League outfielder Julio Rodriguez.
"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 said Rodriguez, who is from the Dominican Republic, has a "personality bigger than all of you combined. He is loud. His English is not tremendous."
Mather also revealed that the Mariners planned to keep top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert in the Minor Leagues to start the 2021 season as a way to manipulate their Major League service time. Many MLB clubs hold prospects back from the big leagues to keep them under team control for an extra year, but teams rarely admit to doing so.
Mathers, who had been with the Mariners since 1996, was promoted to his current role in 2017. He apologized for his comments Sunday night.
MLB and the players' union both condemned Mather's comments Monday.
Earlier in his tenure with the Mariners, the Seattle Times reported in 2018 that multiple female employees accused Mather and two other team executives of inappropriate workplace conduct that resulted in the women receiving financial settlements.