There are those rare moments when you actually get to see a dream come true.
Lefty reliever Tyler Olson got the word last week that he had beaten the odds as a non-roster invite by winning a spot on the Seattle Mariners’ 25-man roster for Monday’s season opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
It became official Saturday, shortly after the Mariners concluded their Cactus League schedule, when the club announced it had selected the Spokane native’s contract from Triple-A Tacoma.
But Sunday brought visual proof when Olson walked into the Mariners’ clubhouse at Safeco Field and saw his name above a locker wedged between James Paxton and Danny Farquhar.
“Speechless,” Olson said. “I was talking to my parents, and they asked me if it had actually hit me yet. I said it probably won’t until I stand in front of my locker. And it really did.”
The Mariners offered Olson an opportunity to trade his spring No. 66 for something more traditional for big-league players, but he declined.
“For me,” he said, “it was just remembering my first spring training. Just the opportunity of being there for my first big-league camp. It’s a little bit of remembering where I came from.
“And, obviously, it was working well for me.”
Olson, 25, faced long odds when camp opened in mid-February. Yes, the bullpen had a possible opening for a lefty reliever, but he spent last season as a starter — first at Hi-A High Desert and later at Double-A Jackson.
Plus, he had barely more than 200 innings of professional experience following his selection in the seventh round of the 2013 draft after a standout career at Gonzaga.
Olson appeared a good bet to start the season at Tacoma, particularly since competition for that bullpen job appeared stiff when camp opened. Lucas Luetge topped the returning candidates and figured to get a long look.
The Mariners also signed two veterans to minor-league contracts just prior to camp opening: Rafael Perez and Joe Saunders. Between them, they have 17 years and 573 games of big-league experience.
Olson outpitched them all; he didn’t permit an earned run in 122/3 innings over 10 appearances. He allowed eight hits but didn’t walk a batter while registering 15 strikeouts.
So here he is, in the big leagues.
“I actually did a scout showcase (at Safeco) when I was in college,” he said. “I was invited here. I’ve thrown in the bullpen, and I’ve thrown on the game mound. So I’m a little bit familiar (with the ballpark).
“But actually coming here, and knowing this is the new office, this is the new home…is a little bit different for me.”
Right-handed reliever Carson Smith didn’t expect to be with the Mariners for their brisk Sunday workout at Safeco Field. It was only one week earlier that he was optioned to Tacoma.
Club officials reversed field on Friday by recalling Smith to replace a struggling Dominic Leone in their bullpen. Leone will now — barring further surprises — open the season with the Rainiers.
“It was a little bit of a shock,” Smith admitted. “The last time I got called up (was in September). I wasn’t anticipating it, but I knew there were call-ups coming.
“This was the first time I got that crazy phone call in the middle of the day after I was done with a full day’s workout in the minor leagues.”
Smith enters the season with a streak of nine scoreless appearances to open his career. He allowed just two hits in 82/3 innings in September after that call-up. He also struck out 10 and walked three.
The gates at Safeco Field open at 10:40 a.m. Monday for the 1:10 p.m. start, and the Mariners are advising fans to leave extra time in coming to the park.
Not only is the game a sellout, but fans are reminded that enhanced screening procedures are in place, including walk-through metal detectors. All bags, including purses, are subject to inspection.
Broadcasters Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith will be joined by the Mariner Moose in conducting a countdown at the Home Plate Gate. All fans will get a magnetic schedule, courtesy of Safeco Insurance.
Pre-game activities include:• The national anthem will be sung by Generald Wilson, a retired Navy petty officer first class.
• The colors will be presented by I Corps Command from Joint Base Lewis McChord.
• The Mariners will honor and remember Suzanne Stork, wife of Mariners owner Carl Stork, long-time scout Bill Kearns and pitching prospect Victor Sanchez with a moment of silence.
• Third baseman Kyle Seager will receive his Gold Glove for defensive excellence from Rawlings Sporting Goods.
• Former Mariners second baseman Joey Cora will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
• With Felix Hernandez on the mound, the King’s Court will be in session. Fans seated in sections 148-150 will receive King’s Court T-shirts and K-Cloths.