Willie Bloomquist, the utilityman who played seven positions in his Mariners career, has signed a two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals – and will compete for one spot there, second base.
The Royals, calling Bloomquist an 'ignitor,' have agreed to a two-year, $3 million deal and will let the 31-year-old free agent fight for a starting job at second base. If he doesn't win that, he'll come off the bench.
The signing ends Bloomquist's six-year run with Seattle, during which the Port Orchard product was beloved by some fans and disliked by others.
In 540 games as a Mariner, Bloomquist batted .263 and stole 71 bases in 87 attempts.
For those who don't believe intensity plays a role in major league games, Bloomquist was never more than an afterthought with Seattle – the kind of player who gets in the game when someone else is tired or hurt.
Much of Bloomquist's value was a clubhouse presence that demanded maximum effort, and it was embraced by every manager he played for. Bloomquist would challenge anyone, and was as good a clubhouse mimic as there is in the game.
He could sound like virtually anyone, given enough time, from Mariners broadcasters to coaches and teammates – and he was not beyond mocking writers, in their presence, with spot-on impersonations.
Yes, he used to 'do' me, often grabbing a bat, making it look like the monopod I carry. Then he'd focus his imaginary camera, take a shot, check it in his view finder and beam.
That, he said, was me. His teammates loved it. I couldn't deny it.
Bloomquist will be missed, but knew it was time to move on. Here's hoping his time with the Royals finds him playing time and yet another manager who comes to appreciate what he can bring to a game and a team.