After 10 long years kicking around the Mariners farm system, Mike Wilson finally wore a big-league uniform on Tuesday.
BALTIMORE — After 10 long years kicking around the Mariners farm system, Mike Wilson finally wore a big-league uniform on Tuesday.
He also wore the biggest grin at Camden Yards.
“It’s a great feeling, with my long road I’ve been through, everything that’s been going on with me,” he said. “It’s one of the best feelings of my life right now. Hopefully, I can take full advantage of it.”
Wilson and fellow Tacoma outfielder Carlos Peguero were the beneficiaries of Monday’s Mariner purge, which resulted in veteran outfielders Milton Bradley and Ryan Langerhans getting designated for assignment.
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It signaled a number of changes, including a platoon of Peguero and Wilson in left field, manager Eric Wedge said Tuesday.
“Obviously, both are big guys, power guys,” Wedge said. “The ball comes off their bat as good as anyone we have. It’s good to have them as options.”
Wedge also moved first baseman Justin Smoak from his No. 5 spot in the batting order and installed him as the No. 3 hitter, the spot previously held by Bradley. Wedge had been reluctant to move Smoak to cleanup, but he said he had no hesitation moving him up to third.
“I think with Smoaker, he’s been arguably our best hitter, and that’s usually where you want your best hitter, hitting third,” Wedge said. “I think he’s going to handle it well.”
As is his style, Smoak was low-key about the move.
“I feel just the same as hitting fifth,” he said with a shrug. “Just a little further up. Middle of the order is middle of the order. You’re going to get pitched the same way.”
As for Wilson, a second-round Mariners draft pick way in 2001, he was asked if he had begun to doubt if this day would ever come.
“Oh, man. If it didn’t come this year, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “I’m happy it’s here right now.”
Wilson said he was a minor-league free agent at three different junctures of his career, but each time elected to return to Seattle. This last offseason, he was in fairly serious discussions with another team but opted for Seattle. In previous years, he flirted with the idea of playing in Japan but decided against it.
“I felt so comfortable with the Mariner organization, and they’ve treated me well,” he said. “I’ve been on the roster, been off the roster. It’s been a constant struggle with it. I kept playing hard and stayed focused.”
The toughest time might have been last year, when an anticipated September call-up never came.
“We won the Triple-A championship, and I was the MVP of the playoffs,” Wilson said. “I thought I had a chance, but it didn’t come. It was a little frustrating, but I told myself, keep working hard and it’s going to come eventually.”
And now it’s finally here, an opportunity caused by Bradley’s departure. Wedge agreed with general manager Jack Zduriencik that no one incident led to the decision to cut Bradley.
“We have some young players we want to continue to play and some young players we want to bring up to play, and we also have (Franklin) Gutierrez coming back,” Wedge said.
“As we continue to move forward and make progress, we have to decide who we’re going to move forward with, and he wasn’t going to be a part of that.”
Bad news on Aardsma
The Mariners got some ominous news Tuesday on closer David Aardsma, who has missed all season after undergoing hip surgery in January. Now the concern is with his arm. Mariners medical director Dr. Edward Khalfayan reviewed Aardsma’s MRI from last Saturday, and his diagnosis is a grade two sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in the right elbow.
Aardsma will travel to California on Thursday to see Dr. Lewis Yocum for a second opinion. After the exam, Dr. Yocum and Dr. Khalfayan will confer and make a recommendation on treatment.
“There’s a level of concern,” Wedge said. “Hopefully, the second opinion is favorable in regard to what plan of attack we’re going to have with David moving forward. But yeah, I think there’s reason for concern.”
• Ken Griffey Jr., in his role as special consultant, arrived in Baltimore today and will be with the team throughout the series.
“He’s going to be popping in from time to time, whether it’s here or a minor-league affiliate, or at some point hopefully we’ll get him to Seattle,” Wedge said. “It was nice to talk shop with him.”
For the record: W-L 16-20; W PCT .444;
vs. AL West: 6-7
vs. L.A.: 0-0
vs. Oakland: 4-3
vs. Texas: 2-4
vs. AL East: 4-3
vs. AL Cent: 6-10
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 5-7
vs. RHP: 11-13
Extra inngs.: 0-2
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org