The Dartmouth graduate (he has a degree in sociology and economics) may yet pursue that front-office career – one day. Right now, he’s still content playing.
PEORIA, Ariz. – Non-roster utilityman Ed Lucas is opening eyes in Mariners camp with his bat and versatility. Not bad for a guy who was ready to hang it up four years ago.
After what he called a “very average” year in Triple-A in the Angels organization in 2012, Lucas decided to take the pursuit of his baseball dream in a different direction.
After lots of heart-to-heart talks with Angels director of player development Scott Servais — now the Mariners’ manager — Lucas had decided to quit playing and accept the Angels’ offer of a front-office internship.
“I had turned 30, and there’s a lot of things I want to do with my life,’’ Lucas said. “I love playing baseball, I love baseball in general, and I thought I’d get just as much fulfillment working within baseball as I would playing.”
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Baseball can take funny turns, however. The following January, as Lucas was driving from his Florida home to Anaheim to begin the internship, the Marlins called with an offer to bring him to big-league camp.
As Servais tells it, “Ed said, ‘You know what, this is kind of my last gig. I’ll go and take the big-league meal money in camp, and after I get released, I’ll drive out to Anaheim.’
“He ends up having a pretty good camp, and he calls and says, ‘You know what? I’m going to turn the internship down. I’m going to go to Triple-A, they’re going to pay me 15 grand a month. I’m going to go ahead and take that. But as soon as I get released, I’ll come out and take the job.’ ”
Lo and behold, Lucas wound up being called up by the Marlins, making his major-league debut on May 30, 2013 at age 31. He played 94 games for the Marlins, hitting .256 with four homers and 28 RBI. He played in 69 games in 2014, and after spending 2015 in Triple-A, he’s reunited with Servais in the Mariners organization.
“I think the decision not to (take the internship) is probably the best decision I ever made,” Lucas said. “Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you don’t take.”
Though Lucas, now 33, is unlikely to make the Mariners’ roster out of spring training, he offers an intriguing package. He has played every position in the majors except pitcher, catcher and center field (though he did catch in instructional league and has played center in the minors). Lucas is hitting .400 (6 for 15) with two doubles in Cactus League play.
“He’ll fill a role for us this year,’’ Servais said. “If he breaks with the club or not – I’m not sure what his chance are there – but you need lots of guys in Triple-A that can help you out.”
The bulk of Lucas’s experience is in the infield, but he said, “I’m comfortable playing anywhere. I like to think of myself as not having a position, just playing all of them.”
Meanwhile, the Dartmouth graduate (he has a degree in sociology and economics) may yet pursue that front-office career – one day. Right now, he’s still content playing.
“I want to see the other side of it we don’t get to see while we’re playing,’’ he said. “That’s very intriguing to me. We’ll see when and if that happens.”
— In his morning media session, Servais said Friday’s opponent, the Giants, can offer some lessons after winning three World Series titles in the past six years – in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
“They play really good on even years,’’ Servais said with a laugh. “This happens to be an even year so I’m sure we’ll get their best all year. … They’ve made great moves in the front office, they’ve put a team together, they’ve continued to juggle their core of players, and it’s driven by their pitching, obviously.
“There’s a lot to learn (from them). The one thing there is the continuity within the organization, the minor-league/big-league staff. But they’re not afraid to kind of continue to add and subtract from their core, and I think that’s what all good organizations do as they try to sustain success.”
— With Evan Scribner and Ryan Cook likely slated to start the season on the disabled list because of lat injuries, the Mariners’ bullpen competition has opened up. Here are some of the latest assessments from Servais:
“Joel Peralta, we didn’t really know what we’d get there. Obviously he’s a seasoned big-leaguer. He’s been around, but he’s done a nice job on the field and has added to our clubhouse culture. That’s probably one, I didn’t really know much about him.
“I think some of the guys have settled in. (Mayckol) Guaipe has thrown better the last couple times out after a rocky first one. I like where he’s at. Again, we don’t have all of our guys out there right now. But those are two guys … Jonathan Aro I don’t think is quite comfortable yet. We’re just kind of eye-balling where he’s at. (Justin) De Fratus will be back out there maybe (Saturday) or the next day, so we’ll keep an eye on that.”
— Guillermo Heredia, the Cuban outfielder who signed with the Mariners early in camp, will see his first game action Friday or Saturday, Servais said. Heredia has been slowed by a sprained ankle.
— Stefen Romero is likely to be back at first base in one of Saturday’s split-squad games. The Mariners host the Dodgers in Peoria and travel to Goodyear to face the Reds.
— Charlie Furbush will play catch and throw off flat ground today. In a slight change of plans, he’ll probably face minor-leaguers on a back field next before appearing in his first Cactus League game. Furbush is coming back from shoulder problems last season, and the Mariners are being cautious, though Servais said Furbush feels good.
— Luis Sardinas, hitting .500 (9 for 18) in his bid for a utility job, is being held out Friday because of a cramp in his calf. He’s expected to return Saturday.
|Seattle Mariners at San Francisco Giants
Scottsdale Stadium (12:05 pm Seattle time)
|Seattle Mariners (5-4)||San Francisco Giants (5-5)|
|4||Ketel Marte (S)||SS||2||Denard Span (L)||DH|
|12||Leonys Martin (L)||CF||35||Brandon Crawford (L)||SS|
|15||Kyle Seager (L)||3B||5||Matt Duffy||3B|
|21||Franklin Gutierrez||DH||28||Buster Posey||C|
|17||Stefen Romero||RF||45||Kyle Blanks||1B|
|56||Dae-Ho Lee||1B||6||Jarrett Parker (L)||RF|
|33||Chris Iannetta||C||51||Mac Williamson||LF|
|68||Efren Navarro (L)||LF||1||Ramiro Peña (S)||2B|
|36||Shawn O’Malley (S)||2B||66||Gorkys Hernandez||CF|
|Starting Pitcher||Starting Pitcher|
|18||Hisashi Iwakuma||RHP||29||Jeff Samardzija||RHP|