Casper Wells' great slide makes up for missing sign | Mariners notebook
Mariners outfielder Casper Wells ran through a stop sign Wednesday night in the Mariners' loss at Kansas City but scored on a wide slide that drew praise from his manager and even the home-plate umpire.
Seattle Times staff reporter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mariners manager Eric Wedge will let Casper Wells get away with blowing through stop signs, as long as he keeps pulling off home-plate slides the way he did Wednesday.
Wells did not get the "hold up" signal from third-base coach Jeff Datz in the sixth inning of the 8-7 loss until well after he'd rounded the bag. So Wells made a split-second decision to keep on running and only beat the tag by making a terrific, diving slide in which he came in wide and darted his right hand in across the plate at the last second.
"Fortunately for us, he made a great slide," Wedge said Thursday morning, before his team closed out a four-game series with a 6-1 win over the Royals. "But sometimes, you're going to run through those stop signs because you're being so aggressive. You'd rather be that way than running to third base and looking to hold up."
Wells said Datz put up the stop sign "a little too late" for him to hit the brakes. Royals right fielder Jeff Francouer has one of the better arms in the game, so Wells knew he'd have to come in wide rather than go directly at the catcher.
"I did it a couple of times this year," Wells said. "I just try to go as far away from the catcher as possible because they'll be diving at you. They aren't taught to get the runner, they're taught to go right in front of the plate. So I know that, at the last second, they could be coming in there and jamming their glove at the plate. So I try to go around them as much as I can."
Wells caught a break when the throw bounced in the dirt a bit offline. Afterward, even plate umpire Jim Joyce was impressed by what Wells had done.
"Jim Joyce was saying something like, 'That was the best slide I saw all year,' " Wells said.
Wedge normally isn't a fan of players going in wide, but felt Wells had little choice.
"A lot of these kids are taking that approach," Wedge said. "You don't see many people going right through it anymore. It's more about going around or this, that and the other, or sliding past it and using your hand.
"In that respect, to yesterday, it was a good thing, but more times than not you want to go directly toward it because that's your quickest route and most direct route.
"Whether it be sliding into second base or into home or wherever it may be. I think there are certain points in time when it calls for it (coming in wide) and that was it."
Double time for Rainiers
It was quite the long night for Seattle's Class AAA Tacoma affiliate, which defeated Sacramento 2-1 in a franchise-record-tying 18 innings early Thursday morning.
The winning, walkoff homer came from utility infielder Scott Savastano, who had also pitched a scoreless top of the 18th when the Rainiers ran out of arms. Thus, Savastano wound up the winning pitcher as well in a game that lasted 5 hours, 32 minutes.
Tacoma won despite managing just six hits in 18 innings. First baseman Mike Carp had two of them, going 2 for 4 before Savastano pinch-hit for him in extra innings.
Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez threw a bullpen session Thursday and the team will look to get him a simulated game in Tampa Bay this weekend. After that, he'll head out on a rehabilitation assignment in the minors if all goes well.
Franklin Gutierrez, meanwhile, did not do any physical work Thursday in the extreme Kansas City heat, with a game-time temperature of 98 degrees and a heat index of 101. Wedge said the team would try to increase Gutierrez's workload this weekend as he struggles to make it back from a concussion suffered three weeks ago.