When John Jaso came out onto Tropicana Field today, several of his old Tampa Bay teammates began calling out, “Mikey” to greet him — much to the confusion of his new Seattle teammates. Turns out Jaso got tagged with the Mikey nickname as a rookie by Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who didn’t know his name and addressed him as Mikey one day on the team bus.
“It’s cool to be back here,” said Jaso, who was on playoff teams with the Rays in both 2010 and 2011. “Those are all my friends.”
Jaso said it was especially meaningful to see the “162 Landing” in left field that commemorates Evan Longoria’s walkoff homer in the final game of last season that put the Rays in the postseason as Boston collapsed down the stretch.
“Memories do come back when you see all the things again,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jaso still hasn’t seen one minute of action behind the plate for Seattle as the Mariners play their 24th game. And he continues to say he’s not upset at his lack of playing time, so far limited to four starts at designated hitter, as well as three pinch-hitting appearances. He’s hitting .294 (5-for-17) and his clutch hitting has been instrumental in two victories.
“No, it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I’m here at the big-league level. I’ve worked too hard and too long in the minor leagues to really be angry about anything up here. I get put in here and there and try to help the team wherever I can. I really love watching mechanics – hitting mechanics and pitching mechanics. Being down the bullpen a lot, I get to work with the pitchers. If I see they have questions, I can maybe approach them with something like that. I really enjoy that stuff. I’m happy right where I am.”
He added, “I know there’s other things. (Miguel) Olivo is the man here, he’s playing. I know how things work. I’ll just wait. Not really wait, but help out wherever I can.”
I asked Wedge about the prospects of getting Jaso behind the plate.
“I’d like to, but right now we’re trying to get Olivo going and getting (Jesus) Montero in there from time to time, it’s just hard for us. At some point in time we’ll get him back there, and he’ll get a little time back there.”
Olivo, meanwhile, is on a seven-game hitting streak, dating back to April 22, during which he’s hit ..310 (9-for-29 — not .280 as previously written. Good catch by Rosecobb). Overall, he’s hitting .195.
“He’s been working hard at it,” Wedge said. “Up the middle, he’s a lot better with his approach. Obviously he’s a pull hitter, but his approach has to be more consistent up the middle and he’s done it. We need him to hit. He’s going to play, and we need him to contribute offensively, and he’s starting to do that.”
Josh Lueke, the reliever the Mariners sent to Tampa Bay for Jaso, made the Opening Day roster because Kyle Farnsworth started the year on the disabled list. But after giving up seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his first two outings, Lueke was sent to the minors and his currently with Triple-A Durham.