Could Jack Wilson really be headed to second base?
Sunday’s proclamation by manager Eric Wedge that Brendan Ryan will be working primarily at shortstop this spring in an open competition with Jack Wilson should come as no huge surprise, given the Mariners traded for the former St. Louis defensive standout to provide some depth there.
More surprising was Wedge saying Wilson would be working some at second base, given Wilson has played 1,219 games in his 10-year career … and all have been at shortstop.
Wilson pulled a new second baseman’s glove out of his locker Sunday and said he’s working her in. And, yeah, he said his gloves are always a “her,” though he doesn’t name them.
Wilson didn’t sound thrilled about being asked to try a new position, but he’s a class act and a team guy and if he gets beat out by a better player, he understands. He also gets why the Mariners aren’t just handing him the shortstop job, given his injury struggles since his arrival a year and a half ago from Pittsburgh.
But Wilson also says he’s feeling healthier than he has in a long while and he’s lost a noticeable 15 pounds, which he thinks will help his hamstrings as well. So this one will be interesting to watch this spring. When healthy, Wilson is a very good shortstop, even if Mariners fans haven’t seen much of that guy yet.
Wedge told Wilson he wanted him to take some reps at second just to provide more options, though he said it would be “a reach” at this point to envision Ryan at short and Wilson at second on a regular basis.
“I told him I’m not sure how it’s going to play out,” Wedge said. “I want to take a good look at the Ryan kid. Both of those guys are going to be somewhere and whatever is best for our ballclub is what we’re going to do.”
Adam Kennedy figures prominently in the plans and if the veteran hits well this spring, it’s not hard to see him being the Opening Day second baseman and holder of that position until Dustin Ackley’s eventual promotion. Unless Ackley makes the team out of camp, of course.
Wedge said Kennedy will work at second, first and third, in that order, and noted he played 51 games at first base last season for the Nationals. Most of that was as a late-inning defensive replacement, as he started just four times at first. But he could easily provide backup to Justin Smoak.
Ryan, meanwhile, will also get some work as third in order to provide backup to Chone Figgins.
Figgins, of course, got the shot at second base last year and his transition didn’t go as smoothly as hoped. Which is why he’s back at third now. Could Wilson handle the switch to a spot he hasn’t played since his freshman year in college in ’97?
“I’ve played around over there. It’s kind of fun and different,” he said. “But if it came down to switching, there would be a lot of work to learn that. It depends on the time frame they have if it becomes a reality. But it’s one of those things they’re asking you to go out and try. And you’ve got to do what your team asks.”
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)