ARLINGTON, Texas — The Seattle Mariners asked, and Chris Woodward wasn’t about to say no.
Woodward, the Mariners’ minor league infield coordinator, has traveled to Texas with the team.
Woodward was in the dugout with the Mariners during this week’s series at Tampa Bay because he lives in the area. But general manager Jack Zduriencik asked Woodward to stay with the team and continue to tutor and support rookie shortstop Brad Miller and second baseman Nick Franklin, with whom he worked a lot during spring training and in the minor leagues earlier this season.
“I don’t know if it is a comfort thing for some of these guys, but they asked me to come along, so of course I will,” said Woodward, who played for the Mariners in 2009 and 2010. “I will help them as much as I can.”
Infield coach Robby Thompson, who has been filling in as the acting Mariners manager while Eric Wedge recovers from a mild stroke, was more than pleased to have Woodward come along.
“He’s a good guy to have here,” Thompson said. “He did a great job down below. He can only help.”
When Woodward visited Miller and Franklin while they were in the minor leagues, he warned them how difficult the adjustment would be at the big-league level.
“I explained to them when they were down there that up here it’s a little different,” Woodward said. “Every little thing that happens gets exposed or gets scrutinized. Watching how they are dealing with it is big and how they move forward.”
Mistakes happen. The players know that. They just seem to hurt worse at the big-league level. Miller and Franklin are feeling the effects.
“Everything is so magnified,” Woodward said. “There’s a lot of things that they did in Double A and Triple A that don’t necessarily get swept under the rug, but it doesn’t get as noticed, not only from the media standpoint or the manager standpoint. It’s not blown up. Up here, it’s all about winning.”
Woodward doesn’t want them to be satisfied. Yes, right now just making the routine plays would go a long way in helping them progress. But he knows there is the capability of more.
“To be a good major-league shortstop and second baseman, it’s not always just about making the routine plays,” Woodward said. “You need to turn those tough double plays and make those tough plays. The good ones do it. The ones that stay at this level for a long time do it.”
There is only one way to get to that point — work.
“Your work every day determines how you play on a daily basis,” Woodward said. “If you consistently prepare for those plays, they become routine. Brendan (Ryan) is pretty good at that. He works at it. I think it’s good for them to see how hard he works.”
Effort isn’t a problem for Miller and Franklin.
“Miller is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,” Woodward said. “There are times I almost have to take a step (back). Nick was working his tail off in Tacoma when I saw him.”
Mike Zunino, who in late July underwent surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his left wrist, hit off the tee Friday and could take batting practice next week.
Zunino went on the disabled list July 26 and has vowed to return faster than Ken Griffey Jr., who was out 23 days after suffering the same injury. Zunino is running out of time to beat Griffey.
The Mariners likely will be careful with Zunino because the season is pretty much a wash, but they are happy with his recovery.
“He’s really working hard at it,” Thompson said. “He’s champing at the bit to get back. He’s working his way to regular BP (batting practice). And hopefully we can get him on a little rehab assignment.”
Puget Sound fans looking for Saturday’s Mariners-Rangers radio broadcast won’t find it on 710-AM because of a conflict with the Seattle Seahawks’ exhibition game against the Denver Broncos. Instead, the baseball game will be broadcast live on 770-AM.
Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez (12-5, 2.28 ERA) will start on the mound Saturday, while Texas will go with left-hander Martin Perez (5-3, 3.44). First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. (PDT). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 770-AM.