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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

April 4, 2009 at 5:52 PM

Wrapping up cutdown day

I promised quotes, and here they are. I’ve still got a story to write, so I’ll make it quick. I apologize in advance for any typos.

DON WAKAMATSU

On Tuiasosopo making the team: “We’re so happy for him. Obviously, to be able to reward a guy that worked so hard and really impressed us. We think it’s the best fit for us immediately. We’ll see how it goes for us, and obviously, with Ichiro and all that. It’s nice to be able to reward a kid like that.”

On whether Kelley and Jakubauskus were on his radar when camp opened: “We had great reports on Kelley, and with Jakubauskas, they said this guy will open your eyes. But not to that extent. To be able to go to Minnesota with at least three guys you didn’t plan on making the team….you sit in those meetings, it’s a good feeling in your heart to be able to reward those guys for what they’ve done, so I’m happy for them.”

On whether the bullpen roles are defined: To a point. On Monday, if we have to go to the bullpen for a closer, we’ll go to Morrow. We’ll probably use several different guys to set up. Miguel probably, Lowe, Corcoran pitched well here, so he gives us more viable options. Jakubauskus we’ll use probably in several different roles. That’s going to be the hardest one, to keep him to where he gives us insurance long, but he also pitched well enough to where you’d like to use him.

On the catching: “Jamie Burke has been with the organization and is a tremendous asset to any club. But we also thought Rob came in and really deserved the opportunity after the spring he had. We set some parameters early in camp to what we were looking for in that spot, and he filled them all.”

On their toughest decision: “There were a lot of them, but probably Mike Wilson. We like to reward guys that deserve it. I think if there were one more spot, Mike would be on it, without a doubt. Especially a guy we took off the roster, and then came back in and made some adjustments. He really palyed hard and did some tremendous things.”

Summing up the roster: “We added the leadership we wanted. The rest, I think, is a combination of having some young players that are going to have some veteran players around them to set the example…From where we started and where we’re at now and where we’re headed, I think we all feel pretty good about it.”

JACK ZDURIENCIK

On the final roster moves: “They worked so hard. The guys who are on the club came in with a purpose. We said we’d create competition, and the guys that have been selected are guys that have earned it. I don’t take that for granted and I don’t think they did either. Some of them had some stiff competition and put themselves in a position to make a statement. I’m proud of them.

On Tuiasosopo: “He had a heck of a camp. What more can you say. He came in and made a statement. It’s a tough call with some of these guys, no doubt about it. He was a pretty excited guy. Don and I were together, just minutes ago, and told him that he was going north with us. Short and sweet — ‘Congratulations, do your thing, and get out of here.’ He was tickled pink. What more can you say. He was sitting there and anticipating what was going to happen.”

ROB JOHNSON

“It wasn’t official before today, but he had pulled me into his office and let me know I had made the team (a few days ago).”

On his reaction: “Extremely excited. It’s an honor. To play in the big leagues is not an opportunity a lot of people get. And to be in an organization where they give you an opportunity to play, to make that team is unbelievable.

On the difference from coming up in September: “I think coming up in September, it’s more about getting your feet wet. Opening Day, you feel you’re a part of the team. You have a whole season ahead of you to try to win ballgames, especially whenever I do get the opportunity to play. It’s different than just being around the atmosphere and getting used to the big leagues.”

On Jamie Burke not making the team: “Jamie and I are really close friends. We’ve had a lot of good talks the last couple of days. It’s always difficult, but it’s part of the game. He can still back up here. There’s so many things that can happen — trades, stuff like that. We’ll see what happens.”

MATT TUIASOSOPO

Describing the day: “It’s actually been about almost 48 hours. He called me (Wakamatsu) the day before we left. I was getting a massage and couldn’t answer it. I checked, and he’s like “Call me back.” He said, ‘Pack, I don’t know what’s going to happen.” So I packed everything. I have a couple of suitcases here. I didn’t know until the last 10 minutes. I was nervous, like always. Got the goosebumps. Again.”

On whether he thought he had a shot to make the team when Ichiro went on the DL: “I didn’t. He’s an outfielder, I figured they would add another outfielder. You never know in this game. I just kept my fingers crossed. Pedro Griffol and Wak said pack for everything, because you might not come back. I had everything ready.

Contrasting today with when he was recently sent down: ‘It was inevitable. I knew it was going to happen. Like I said, I just wanted to make a good impression. I was very surprised when I got a phone call. I asked (Tacoma manager) Darren Brown if I was going to make the Vegas trip. He said no, 40-man guys are going. I was really shocked when I got the phone call from Pedro and Wak (Thursday night). About 8 o’clock. I was up all night packing. I had to move everything out of the house. It was pretty nerve-racking. Same thing as last September, the last couple days of the season I didn’t know if I was going to go or not.”

On his reaction: “I’m about to make a couple of phone calls. I told my Mom and Dad right after I got off the phone with Wak that night, there’s a chance I might make the Opening Day roster. The first thing they said, you don’t get excited. Let us get excited for you. I was pretty calm. I didn’t talk to anyone else about it.

On how he was told he had made the team: Someone came and got me, said go talk to Don. I walked in there, and we waited for Jack. Wak actually told me before Jack came in. He whispered, you’re going to Minnesota with us. But Jack’s coming right now. He can tell you. I just sat there and had the biggest smile on my face. I’m probably not going to be there that long, who knows, but it’s pretty cool to make it out of camp.”

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