MESA, Ariz. — The Will Ferrell Tour started here Thursday morning, at HoHoKam Stadium, when he tricked himself out in an Oakland uniform for batting practice amid of sea of cameras and accompanying hubbub.
“I can’t talk,” Ferrell declared. “I’m in beast mode.”
We know what that means: Tune in to Turkish TV in a few weeks.
Ferrell opened the game as the A’s shortstop to loud cheers from the sizable crowd. He wasn’t required to handle a defensive chance before switching uniforms in the second inning.
“I feel like if I’d have hit him one in the hole,” leadoff hitter Austin Jackson said, “he’d have gone over there and made the Jeter throw on me. And I’d have been on Top 10 plays. It might just happen.”
In the movies, maybe.
The switch from the A’s to the Mariners didn’t occur quietly. Or quickly.
Ferrell walked along the Oakland dugout, shaking hands with each player, before trudging to the Mariners’ side. The “trade” completed, Ferrell replaced Willie Bloomquist at second base in the bottom of the inning.
“It’s not every day,” Bloomquist noted, “that Will Ferrell takes over for me during a game.”
Ferrell slipped up on his first duty as a second baseman when he failed to position himself to take the throw from catcher Mike Zunino after right-hander Jordan Pries completed his warm-up pitches.
No problem. Shortstop Ketel Marte trotted over to take Zunino’s throw.
Ferrell didn’t see a defensive chance while playing for the Mariners, either. Pries registered two strikeouts before first baseman Jesus Montero ended the inning by making an acrobatic pick on an offline Marte throw.
“I heard him one time,” Mariners starter Jordan Pries said. “I threw a cutter, and he said, `I like that (bleep).’ I kind of gave him a look (and thought), `All right, put that in the belt.’”
Next came Ferrell’s scripted departure — without getting an at-bat for either club. He jogged from the field, past both dugouts with production entourage in tow, to around round of cheers.
Act One was in the book.
Ferrell played for 10 clubs in five Cactus League games Thursday as part of an effort to bolster public awareness in the fight against cancer.
Major League Baseball, which helped coordinate the project, moved the start for the game at HoHoKam up one hour to 12:05 p.m. to aid the Mesa-Tempe-Scottsdale-Glendale-Peoria itinerary.
HBO is filmed Ferrell’s efforts for broadcast later in the year.
“It is for a good cause,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s a little bump in the road (in terms of routine), but what he’s doing is for a good charity.
“A lot of folks have been touched by this, so we’re all for it.”