Here are the contract figures for Jack Wilson: Two years, $10 million guaranteed ($5 million in 2010, $5 million in 2011), plus $250,000 in performance bonuses each year (mostly plate appearances) for a potential $500,000; plus the standard awards package worth a possible $450,000. Again, no option for 2012. The Mariners made two separate transactions today, declining Wilson’s option (which required a $600,000 buyout), and then signing the new contract.
Wilson was in Seattle yesterday getting a physical, but was back at his home in California today.
A couple of things came through in Wilson’s conference call with reporters: His frustration over last year’s performance after he came over from Pittsburgh, especially the injuries; and his desire to return to Seattle to prove what he can do. Here are some of his comments, followed by some from Jack Zduriencik.
“I’m really, really excited to be back in Seattle. It’s such a great organization, with such a great chance to win and compete. I have very high hopes for the team. Unfortunately, I was watching more than playing last year, but seeing the talent level they have, I’m really happy to be a part of it.
On signing a two-year deal rather than having his option picked up: “It’s one of those things; I really didn’t look too much into it. Obviously, I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish when I came over. I had a lot of high hopes to help the team that was in a little bit of a pennant race. Once the season was over – I was so ready for the season to be over. It seemed like everything went wrong. The only bright spot was being traded to a top-notch organization. I had just started to get back in the groove and I got hurt again. I’m really happy to have a chance to play in Seattle and show Jack what he saw in Pittsburgh.”
On his health: I feel great, absolutely great. It was just some of those nick-nack things, pulling a hamstring on a wet night in Pittsburgh that lingered forever, and hurting my feel running to first base. It didn’t take long after the season for the heel to go away. I’ve started conditioning, doing a lot of football passes. Tuesday, I’ll start my weight regimen. Health-wise, I feel 100 percent. I feel great.
There’s nothing like a rough year to give you an extra incentive to do more in the postseason. That’s always a positive.
How long it took to know Seattle was the place you wanted to be: “Probably an hour, an hour and a half. When I first got here, I walked into the clubhouse, seeing the players. I just watched the last couple of inning when I was there, and there was such an aura around the stadium. They had a come-from-behind win over the Blue Jays. I literally walked into the dugout as Junior hit a bases-loaded double to take the lead in the eighth. I said right then, ‘Man, this looks like a fun place to be. It’s really something that opened my eyes. When you’re in the NL Central so many years, you don’t pay attention to teams – not only in your part of the U.S., but in the whole other league.”
On the adjustment to the AL: Right before the heel thing, I had a week-long hitting streak. We were facing teams the second time, like Oakland, and I was feeling more comfortable, just seeing guys, seeing their style of pitching. I’m really excited. I saw enough of the American League in the time I was there, plus interleague play, to know I can make an adjustment to a different style of game.”
On detaching himself from Pittsburgh: “Honestly, I’ll never say I can detach myself from a place I had been so long. I’m just really excited to be on the West Coast, close to home, the same side of the United States as I grew up. Most important, it’s the guys on the field, watching them play when I was playing, and when I was not playing. You have one of the best right fielders of all time; having Ken Griffey Jr., and one of the best pitchers in the game in Felix, one of the best-hitting second basemen in the game in Jose; having Adrian to my right. I can go on and on with the players we had last year.
I was really nervous because of the guys I was playing with and the caliber of the team. Unfortunately, in Pittsburgh, we didn’t get it done. We always have four or five guys going in and out the door each year. I was nervous playing around these guys, the upper level, Hall of Fame players they are. I’m excited to go into spring traiing and being with them.
“When we acquired Jack, one of the things we envisioned was that he would be part of this organization as we moved forward. We were looking to upgrade and solidify the shortstop position. I saw him play many games when I was with Milwaukee and he was with Pittsburgh, and I always admired him. He was one of those pain-in-the-butt guys. He’s a superb defensive player. I’m extremely happy he’ll be with us for the next two years.
“We wanted to have Jack here, no question. Being able to have him the next two years is important. To fill that position – it’s not an easy position to find. We talked all last year, all winter, and certainly at the traded deadline. The chance to acquire a guy like Jack – we envisioned him here more than a year, and we were able to work that out. It’s a nice marriage. We’re very happy to have him.
“I know Jack was disappointed in how he played here. He came over and was hurt, his hamstring and his heel, plus adjusting to a new league. This guy can play defense. There’s no guy in baseball that wouldn’t tell you they want that position solidified with a prime defensive player, and we did that. It’s just the right thing for us at this time.”
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr, Getty Images)