Results tagged ‘ Jack Wilson ’

It’s official: Ryan at shortstop, Wilson at second base

RyanBrendanBat.JPGBrendan Ryan won the Mariners starting shortstop job, manager Eric Wedge announced Tuesday. (Photo by Greg Johns/MLB.com).

Manager Eric Wedge made his decision today on the Mariners middle infield situation and it came with something of a surprise: Brendan Ryan will be the everyday shortstop, with Jack Wilson at second base for the first time in his career.

Wilson has been splitting time with Ryan at second this spring, but will take the bulk of the work on the right side of the infield from now on.

Ryan, obtained by trade from the Cardinals over the offseason, is regarded as one of the game’s premier defensive shortstops and is five years younger than Wilson, 33.

Wedge said part of the equation remains untold until the utility infield spot is finalized, which likely means non-roster invitee Adam Kennedy will fit into the picture as well. But for now, the skipper was willing only to finalize the Ryan-Wilson situation.

“We could have gone either way with it because we’re comfortable with both guys on both sides of the bag, but we felt this is the best combo,” he said.

Ryan hasn’t hit particularly well this spring, though his .152 average is a little misleading since he’s hit the ball hard at people numerous times. But he’s impressed the Mariners with his shortstop play.

“I was just wide open with my view of him,” Wedge said. “And he’s been everything and then some. I think with regard to Jack, he’s been fantastic with the way he’s gone about his business at second base and shortstop, with his offensive side of things and the way he’s run the bases. he’s had a lot to offer this spring.”

Wedge said keeping Wilson healthy was a small part of the decision as well, with second base a little less demanding than shortstop. Left unsaid was the fact second base could change in the near future when the club brings Dustin Ackley into the picture.

As for how Ackley fits in, Wedge said he wouldn’t speak on that topic at this point. Ackley presumably will start the season in Tacoma, but he is obviously a key piece in the future as the organization’s top position prospect.

He did say catcher Miguel Olivo will catch three innings tomorrow in a Minor League game and is on schedule to break camp with the team if all goes well.

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.

WilsonJackSS.jpgMore 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)

Thoughts from Peoria on pitchers-catchers report day

Not surprisingly on the day when Mariners pitchers and catchers reported to work, most of the talk Sunday in Peoria focused on, you guessed it, pitching. But there are a few position players in camp early and all seem eager to put last year in the rearview mirror.

SmoakJustin.jpgAs first baseman Justin Smoak said: “There’s probably not a team out there that wants to get started sooner than we do to get last year behind us.”

Fair enough. I think everyone from fans to media to the Peanut Man are more than willing to forget about last season. So let’s focus on the here and now with some initial observations on Sunday’s activities from Mariners camp:

  • The earliest arrivals among the position players are all guys who could play critical roles in this coming season. Smoak, the 24-year-old first baseman, might be the biggest key of all to how this season unfolds given the Mariners’ need for a big bag bat in the middle of the order.
  • He was working with Dustin Ackley and, yes, watching the Justin and Dustin Show could be the highlight of this season if these young guys start coming through. Those two youngsters were hanging out with veteran shortstop Jack Wilson, a gym rat of a ballplayer who would be a good influence on his teammates as well as a nice help for the Mariners if he bounces back to health and plays the way he did in Pittsburgh before his trade to Seattle two years ago.
  • Wilson said he’s feeling great and has been working at his home outside Los Angeles with new infielder Brendan Ryan, who he called after Ryan was acquired by trade from St. Louis and was pleasantly surprised when he saw they shared the same area code.

    Turns out Ryan lives about 25 miles away, so the two have been working together on double-play situations in Wilson’s backyard diamond, taking ground balls from Wilson’s brother and another friend.

    Ironically, Ryan might eventually wind up competing with Wilson for the shortstop duties once Ackley arrives at second base, but that hasn’t stopped their budding friendship.

  • New manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis have an unmistakable bond after 10 years together in the Indians’ organization. When Willis walked by after taking his physical, Wedge asked how he’d done. Willis yelled over his shoulder that he felt so good he was thinking of moving his locker out into the player’s clubhouse, which evoked a loud snort from Wedge.
  • “He’s good for one of those every day,” said Wedge.
  • Willis, 50, spent nine seasons in the Major Leagues as a reliever and was part of the World Series champion Twins bullpen in ’91.

  • Closer David Aardsma was in a good mood Sunday as he talked with teammates and reporters in the clubhouse, but it’s hard to believe a guy still on crutches as camp starts will be ready to contribute any time soon. Aardsma acknowledged that he might not be ready for the first month or so of the regular season, but that it’s more important he be fully healthy for the bulk of the year and the rest of his career.
  • No argument there, though it’ll be interesting to see who steps up in that role. Brandon League had six saves last season while Aardsma was out, giving him eight in his seven-year Major League career.

    Chris Ray, a non-roster invitee, has 61 career saves … but only two since undergoing Tommy John surgery while with the Orioles in ’07.

    The other candidate mentioned by Willis is former Red Sox setup man Manny Delcarmen, who saved three games in six seasons in Boston.

  • Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday morning that the Mariners are interested in right-hander Chad Durbin, a 33-year-old veteran who would add another option to the bullpen mix. But Durbin hasn’t been a closer either with four saves in 11 seasons and the Mariners provided no inkling that there was anything to the Durbin rumors Sunday evening.
  • Clearly, though, Jack Zduriencik’s plan is to bring in as many options as possible on no-risk Minor League deals and see who sticks, which will make for an interesting camp. I still think hard-throwing Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke could develop into the best late-inning options, but Willis wants to  lower expectations on those youngsters as well as rookie starter Michael Pineda at this point, which is wise.

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