PEORIA, Ariz. – The only organization Mike Wilson has played for since he was drafted in 2001, the Seattle Mariners, dropped him from the team’s 40-man roster just before spring training.
It was jolt to the 28-year-old, coming at a time when teams had already filled their spring rosters with invited free agents, and when he re-signed with the Mariners he became essentially the 67th player in camp – wearing uniform number 94.
In the weeks that followed, he appeared in 10 spring games, getting 14 at-bats, and batted .357.
“I’ve tried to stay upbeat all spring – this is the second time I’ve been through this,” Wilson said. “Pouting wouldn’t have made it better. I work and play as hard as I can.
“There are 29 other teams, there’s Japan. I want it to work here, but it’s tough.”
Wilson has played at every level in Seattle’s organization, and last season – his third year in Tacoma – he batted .331 for the Rainiers in 87 games.
That earned him a call-up that saw him appear in eight big-league games. It wasn’t much of a reward. Wilson doesn’t figure to have a huge future in Seattle, where he’s far down the outfield depth chart.
“I think the outfield is set here, and in Tacoma it’s going to be tough getting playing time, too,” Wilson said.
The Rainiers are likely to have outfielders Darren Ford, Carlos Peguero, Trayvon Robinson and even Vinnie Catricala, who plays third base and outfield.
“I’m trying to make the most of the opportunities, maybe show that I can come off the bench. If I’m successful doing it here, maybe I’ll get the chance in Seattle,” Wilson said.
“In other springs, if I wasn’t playing much and came off the bench, I’d try to hit a home run. This spring, I’m happier with 0-2 hits, with working a walk, starting a rally.”
Wilson once led the Mariners in spring home runs and RBI without making the team. Now, at 28, he’s happy to get in an exhibition game.
“This isn’t what I dreamed of, no. It’s not what I’m used to. But I’m trying to make the most of it. I hope they believe I can do something for them,” Wilson said.
“I’m still optimistic I can make the big leagues, but I know it’s gotten tougher.”
My road ain’t over,” he added.
Felix Hernandez pitched six shutout innings and was the winner in Seattle’s 6-1 victory over Milwaukee in Tucson.
The split-squad Mariners notched their 11th victory of the spring behind a 13-hit attack that included Alex Liddi’s two-run home run and three doubles and an RBI from Dustin Ackley.
Liddi had three hits, continuing a spring tear that saw his Cactus League average climb to .435. Robinson had a pair of hits to push his spring average to .529 – highest on the team.
A’S TOP M’S
In the M’s other game Friday night, Josh Reddick hit a two-run double to key a four-run first inning as the Oakland Athletics triumphed 6-1 in Phoenix.
Hisashi Iwakuma, a Japanese League veteran fighting for a spot in the M’s rotation, gave up five runs – three earned – on seven hits. He had three strikeouts.
Expect a second large round of roster cuts today, now that the Mariners are through with double-headers and “B” games. With five days remaining before the team flies to Japan, Seattle will likely go from 47 players in camp to the mid-30s, and begin playing its regular lineup more often and longer. … How hot is Liddi? In his last seven games, he’s 9-for-17 with three doubles, a home run and six RBI.
Seattle will play the Chicago White Sox in a 1 p.m. game that will be broadcast on 710 ESPN. Probable starting pitchers: Blake Beavan vs. Jake Peavy.