Wilson trying again to show he can stick
Josh Wilson went back to the indoor batting cages and sought advice from his dad in his latest bid to remain on the Mariners' major-league roster.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Josh Wilson didn't have far to go this winter when he embarked on his latest quest to prove he could stick in the major leagues.
Entering his 11th season of professional baseball, Wilson still has to battle for major-league work every spring. This season he's going up against Matt Tuiasosopo in a fight to land a Mariners backup infielder's job left wide open by an injury to Jack Hannahan.
Wilson played 72 games with the Mariners, Diamondbacks and Padres last season, only to still find himself heading into spring with a minor-league deal. And so, looking for winter help to up his stock, he left his Pittsburgh-area home, hopped in the car and drove to the indoor batting cages at Duquesne University, where his father, Mike, is entering his 17th and final season as that school's baseball coach.
"I just told Josh, 'Look, we know you can play defense, let's just try to get you to hit,' " his father said in a phone interview Tuesday. "So we got in there and got to work. We went back over a lot of stuff we'd already talked about, but that maybe just needed to be reinforced."
Wilson spent time in the cages with his father five or six days per week. He's confident some of that will pay dividends.
"It's really the same advice he's always given me," said Wilson, who's hitting .333 this spring and was an eighth-inning substitution at third base in Seattle's 6-4 win Tuesday over the Los Angeles Angels. "He'll say, 'You know you've got a good swing. You know it's going. You're right there. Keep it going. Stay focused and keep going.'
"He's always been an influence on me to be mentally tough and stay focused on what lies ahead, not what lies in the past."
Wilson used to have more trouble letting the past go.
"I think his confidence got rattled by some of the things that have happened to him," his father said. "Some guys get by easy in this game. I've seen it. And other guys have to work for every little thing they get sent their way. He's one of those and he's learned to deal with it."
Wilson used to be frustrated by his inability to stick in the majors. By the label that he's an all-glove, no-bat player.
He has 75 home runs in 3,813 minor-league at-bats. Last season with the Mariners, he hit .250 with three homers, eight doubles and a .692 on-base-plus slugging percentage in 128 at-bats.
Those aren't great offensive stats, but are still better than expected.
Still, the glove is what Wilson has going for him in his battle with Tuiasosopo.
"I used to let it get to me," Wilson said of his struggles to stay in the majors. "But over the years, I've come to realize that there are worse things in life than being able to play AAA ball. I'm getting to do what I love for a living and I'll keep doing it as long as I keep getting chances to prove what I can do."
Wilson admits that having a coach for a father made him reluctant to walk into managers' offices or ask questions of coaches.
"I always had my dad there for me when it came to baseball," he said. "He was always my coach.
"I've always been a guy who's kind of quiet, kind of shy," he said. "I like to let my play on the field do my talking for me."
His father adds that Wilson and one of his former high-school teammates, Don Kelly, a utility infielder in the Detroit Tigers system, often discuss their shared plight.
"They just agreed that the best thing to do was accept it and make the most of every chance they get," he said. "At least when they walk away, they can say they gave it their best shot."
• Ichiro made a running, leaping, over-the-shoulder catch in which he rolled into the base of the wall in the second inning of Tuesday's game. Fans at the ballpark gave Ichiro an ovation for his snag of Jeff Mathis' line drive. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said it's one of the best catches he has ever witnessed.
|Aybar dh||3||0||0||1||Ichiro rf||4||1||1||0|
|Izturis ss||4||1||1||0||Figgins 2b||3||0||0||0|
|G.Patchett ss||0||0||0||0||Woodwrd 2b||1||0||0||0|
|Morales 1b||4||0||2||1||Kotchman 1b||2||1||1||0|
|P.Bourjos pr||0||0||0||0||Carp pr-1b||0||1||0||0|
|Rivera rf-cf||3||0||1||0||Griffey Jr. dh||4||0||1||1|
|M.Trout pr||0||0||0||0||J.Jones pr-dh||0||1||0||0|
|Kendrick 2b||4||1||2||0||Lopez 3b||3||1||1||2|
|H.Statia 2b||0||0||0||0||Jo. Wilson 3b||0||0||0||0|
|Wood 3b||4||1||1||1||Byrnes lf||2||1||1||0|
|Budde c||0||0||0||0||Lngerhans lf||0||0||0||0|
|Mathis c||2||0||0||1||Gutierrez cf||3||0||2||2|
|Sandoval 3b||1||0||0||0||Patterson cf||0||0||0||0|
|Quinlan lf-1b||4||1||2||0||Moore c||3||0||0||0|
|Evans cf||2||0||1||0||Alfonzo c||0||0||0||0|
|Aldridge ph||2||0||1||0||Tsosopo ss||4||0||0||0|
|Los Angeles||021 100 000||— 4||11||0|
|Seattle||102 000 30x||— 6||7||0|
|T.Mendoza L, 0-1||2 2/3||3||3||3||2||0|
|Kelley W, 1-0||1||1||0||0||0||0|
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.