As part of his quest to play for 10 teams in five Cactus League games Thursday, the comedian and actor took the field in the bottom of the second inning as the Mariners’ second baseman.
MESA, Ariz. — Will Ferrell’s career with the Mariners was shorter than Pokey Reese’s time with the team, but probably more memorable. Because unlike with the slick-fielding Reese in 2005, the Mariners won’t end up paying the comedian $1.2 million for a season in which he won’t play.
Ferrell’s career with the Mariners lasted all of one uneventful inning.
In the whirlwind that was his Thursday, Ferrell warmed up, took batting practice and shagged flies in preparation for starting the Cactus League game for the Oakland A’s at shortstop. He played the top of the first inning in the field, not having a ball hit to him. But he did do a commendable and audible job of notifying his teammates how many outs there were.
After the inning was over, the A’s traded Ferrell to the Mariners for “a comedian to be named later” according to their statement, which is slightly less than “the dozen pens” that manager Lloyd McClendon had thought the Mariners would have to give up in the deal.
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Ferrell walked across the diamond at a nearly full HoHoKam Stadium , thanking A’s fans for their support.
He then suited up for the Mariners. After a minor delay and violation of MLB’s new pace-of-play rules — no word if he will be fined — Ferrell took the field as the Mariners’ second baseman in the bottom of the second inning, replacing Willie Bloomquist.
Like his time with the A’s, Ferrell avoided having any balls hit his way. But he did have a good view of first baseman Jesus Montero making a brilliant defensive play, digging a bounced throw in the dirt from Ketel Marte that pulled him off the bag and spinning and tagging Josh Phegley for the third out.
Ferrell gave several fist pumps and seemed more excited than Montero about the play.
The warmth of the high fives from his new Mariners teammates had barely left his hand when Ferrell was informed by McClendon that he had been traded to the Los Angeles Angels. No word on what the Mariners received in return, but there is a shortage of used fungo bats at their spring-training facility.
Kidding aside, Ferrell’s stunt of playing for 10 teams in five games as a sort of tribute to Bert Campaneris, who played all nine positions in one game for the Kansas City A’s on Sept. 8, 1965, was for a good cause — raising money for cancer awareness and research. Campaneris was on hand and met with Ferrell pregame.
To be realistic, this was a distraction for teams and managers trying to prepare for the season.
Was it a huge distraction? No. It certainly isn’t going to affect the team’s performance this season. And it was for a commendable purpose.
“It is for a good cause,” McClendon said. “A lot of folks have been touched by this. We’re all for it. I’m glad nobody got hurt.”
Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson wasn’t looking to hurt Ferrell, either. He led off the game with Ferrell standing at shortstop.
“He was pretty funny,” Jackson said. “I looked out there, and he was moving back and forth and being goofy.”
Did he have any thoughts of trying to hit hard liner or grounder to Ferrell at shortstop?
“I was just trying to hit it,” Jackson said. “I felt like I would’ve hit him one in the hole and he would have made the (Derek) Jeter play and throw. I would have been on ‘SportsCenter’ Top 10 with Will Ferrell making a throw to get me out. It might just happen.”
But Jackson’s laugh after the comment was an indication that it probably wouldn’t have happened.
Hisashi Iwakuma wasn’t a part of the Ferrell hysteria in Mesa. With the Mariners playing AL West rival Oakland, McClendon had his veteran starter throw a simulated game in Peoria against minor-leaguers. Iwakuma threw four innings and 60 pitches. Unofficially, he gave up two runs and four hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
“I felt good overall today and had a better feel of my command, being able to locate where I wanted to,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “I was able to work from my stretch with runners on, and that was good to get that feel back. I felt like my arm speed and arm action was better than my first outing, so I am satisfied with where I am at being the second game in camp.”
• Tyler Olson continues to impress and inch closer to winning a spot in the Seattle bullpen. The young lefty worked two perfect innings of relief, striking out three. In three appearances, he’s yet to allow a baserunner and has struck out eight.
• Rickie Weeks had hamstring tightness and was taken out of Wednesday’s game early. The M’s don’t think it’s serious.
“It was for precautionary measures,” McClendon said. “We just didn’t want to take a chance. I will not play him today, but I expect him to be right back out there.”
• Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will throw three or four innings in a simulated game Sunday.
• Nelson Cruz got the start in right field for the first time this spring.
“I’m confident he can play the outfield,” McClendon said. “But he needs to be out there some. I’m trying to be as smart as I can be with this. We’ll get him some time out there to keep him sharp, but at the same time to keep him healthy this spring. I don’t have a number, but he’ll be out there a few more times for sure.”