HOUSTON — When Stuart Fairchild steps on to the field of T-Mobile Park wearing a Mariners uniform Thursday afternoon, a lifelong dream that started as a kid born and raised in Seattle will be fulfilled.
“Growing up and going to watch the Mariners play all the time every summer through high school, it’s always been the team that I’ve wanted to play for,” Fairchild said. “So to get the opportunity to actually do it, it’s really a dream come true.”
Fairchild had participated in a pre-draft workout as a standout player at Seattle Prep in high school but never played in a game at T-Mobile. Now his family and friends will have added incentives to take in a Mariners game.
“They’ll be there for sure,” he said.
The dream became a reality when the Mariners acquired him from the Diamondbacks in a trade for cash considerations on April 23. Fairchild, 26, had been designated for assignment by Arizona on April 19 when the team claimed right-handed pitcher Jacob Webb off waivers.
The move caught him by surprise considering he had made his MLB debut for Arizona in 2021 and the team was in a rebuilding mode and looking to play younger players.
“I think I started the season 0 for 14, which isn’t what you want, but I felt like it was starting to come around with some better at-bats,” he said.
Fairchild was playing with Class AAA Reno when he was designated. He packed up his things and headed home to Seattle while he remained in baseball purgatory. When a player is designated for assignment, the team has 10 days to either trade, outright or release a player.
As a former second-round pick in 2017 by the Reds and with some positional versatility in the outfield, Fairchild hoped he would get claimed off waivers.
“I was confident somebody would pick me up,” he said.
After four days of working out in Seattle, he got a call on that Saturday afternoon that he’d been traded to the Mariners.
“Later that night, I went straight down to Tacoma and met the team down there,” he said. “I didn’t play in the game, but just met the guys, met the coaches and watched them play. I had my first game on that Sunday.”
Fairchild played in four games with Tacoma before being called up to the Mariners when Mitch Haniger suffered a high ankle sprain on a swing in Miami. He saw his first playing time on Sunday as a pinch-hitter, striking out in the ninth inning.
Besides being close to home, he believes the Mariners offer a better opportunity to grow as a player.
“Obviously, there’s plenty of great outfield options here already,” he said. “I feel like if the Mariners wanted me and the D’backs didn’t then I’m in a better spot here than I was there. The emphasis here is so much more on development than what I experienced in Arizona. I feel like I’m going to become a better player here and will perform.”
Keeping tabs on Kyle Lewis
The videos that went viral on Mariners Twitter of Kyle Lewis’ first rehab game, a three-hit night, including 464-foot homer in his first plate appearance for Class AAA Tacoma, found their way to manager Scott Servais’ phone.
Yes, Servais, like almost every manager in baseball and front office executive, has an anonymous “creeper” Twitter account to monitor the news around his team and in MLB as well as the social-media stylings of players.
Asked if he saw the Twitter videos, Servais tried to play it off.
“He looked great on the videos on our internal systems that I looked at,” Servais deadpanned before breaking into laughter.
Lewis went 3 for 5 with the solo homer and two RBI singles.
“It’s great to see him healthy,” Servais said. “That’s what excites me most. Yeah, he hit a homer yesterday, but seeing him moving around the bases and knowing that he’s out there playing, good for him. It’s not easy going through injuries and coming back. And it’s taken him a while.”
What was noticeable was how Lewis exploded out of the box, showing that familiar athleticism, and breaking into that powerful and graceful stride to get him around the bases. There was no sign of the knee issues that have plagued him over the years.
“He looks great,” Servais said. “The results are great. He got off to a good start, which is great to see. But he needs to play, and we’ll continue to monitor it. We’ll see how he feels today. The day after is always a little bit different.”