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February 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Eric Wedge says Jack Wilson has to prove he can stay healthy

Not much going on in camp today, with the rain washing out all but some indoor hitting by position players and catch sessions for the pitchers. We’ll have Geoff Baker Live! coming up tonight at 6 p.m. PT.
The M’s didn’t have any pitchers slotted to throw bullpens today, so the rain wasn’t as frustrating as it could have been. Group 1 pitchers, including Erik Bedard, are scheduled to throw live BP tomorrow.
I’ve been saving the video above for a rainy day. Ever wonder what a knuckleball looks like coming at you? Well then, take a look at Mariners non-roster hopeful Charlie Haeger as he throws a bullpen session a couple of days back.
As for today, M’s manager Eric Wedge spoke to reporters after the altetred morning workout and a lot of the conversation was about the middle infield.
Wedge said shortstop Jack Wilson, oft-injured since his 2009 arrival in Seattle, will have to show he can stay healthy this season. If not, Brendan Ryan — freshly arrived from St. Louis — will be there to step in. The Mariners would clearly like for Wilson to stay healthy for at least half a season so they could flip him and his $5 million salary in a July deadline deal, sliding Ryan over to shortstop full-time as they prepare to promote Dustin Ackley to second base in the majors.
“i want him to spend the bulk of his time at shortstop early on and then go from there,” Wedge said of Ryan’s spring training workouts. “But he’ll still have some reps at second base and third base, too, in that order.”
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Wedge said the team will be in good shape if Wilson stays healthy and does what’s expected of him. But he wants to keep the team’s options open.
“I want Jack Wilson and Brendan Ryan to be over there and we’ll watch them both,” he said. “Jack’s had some issues staying healthy. He’s got to show us we can count on him physically. And Jack might even take some reps at second base.”
For now, Wedge isn’t prepared to make a call on shortstop just yet. He said it would be “a bit of a reach” to suggest the team would go with Wilson at second and Ryan at shortstop. As we said, if Wilson stays healthy and does his job, he’ll be at short. But if he starts coming up lame, like he did last spring, Wedge doesn’t want to pigeon-hole himself into commiting anyone to the position just yet.
Wedge said he’s taking reports of Ryan’s clubhouse issues in St. Louis “with a grain of salt” and prefers to form his own opinions. There have been reports that Ryan had troubles paying attention during meetings and even showing up on time to them.

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Wedge also said the team will be taking a close look at people like Josh Wilson, Adam Kennedy and, of course, Ackley, to see where they fit in the equation. Kennedy and Wilson will likely be vying for the backup infielder job and Wedge said Kennedy’s intangibles and leadership are something that works in his favor.
Don’t forget, also, that Josh Wilson’s major league contract is not guaranteed, meaning the M’s could cut him and only have to pay a fraction of his wage.
But first, of course, the players have to show something. Kennedy is getting up there in age and the big question will be whether he can still hit like he has in the past. If he can, he’ll almost certainly get the nod in any choice over Wilson.
If he can’t, then all bets are off. That’s why they have spring training, to find stuff like this out.
Anyhow, the middle infield battle — both for starters and backups — figures to be one of the most interesting at camp, along with the left field and closer situations.
As for the lineup, Wedge immediately cut short any speculation that Ichiro might be asked to bat third, or Chone Figgins ninth. Wedge said he has some lineups in mind, but the only certainty right now.
“I can give you the first two,” he said. “Ichiro and Figgins.”
There you go.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins


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