Nick Franklin had no idea about the minor frenzy that occurred last night when he jogged out to right field and played there for a few innings. Fans were excited. Others were angry. Debate raged whether he would be a good outfielder. Disagreements about how the Mariners have handled his situation were spurned.
To him, it’s no big deal.
“I’ve been working on it,” he said. “It was just a matter of time before I got out there.”
Franklin has been working on it for about the last three or four days, doing a few drills with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke. It’s not extensive work, just fundamental work.
“We were just working on jumps, and reads, fly balls, crow hops and throwing to the bases,” he said. “Nothing major.”
Why is he doing it?
“This is just me trying to be versatile and I’m trying to play the game,” he said. “Some way, some how I want to get on the field, whatever it takes.”
He knows he’s lost the shortstop job to Brad Miller. He wouldn’t come out and say it but admitted the chances of him getting every day at-bats is gone now.
“I’m not going to sit around and wait for someone to get hurt, that’s not right,” he said.
So he said he’d give outfield a try. He’s not unfamiliar to the position. While he hasn’t played outfield since being drafted by the Mariners in 2009, he did play all three outfield positions for a Team USA select squad. He kind of lives by the idea that if you can play shortstop, you can learn to play the other positions.
“I think shortstop takes a lot of footwork and a lot of other things that other positions don’t,” he said. “In the outfield, you just have to get good reads and have good footwork.”
As for a plan of what’s going to happen, Franklin wasn’t sure. He hasn’t officially been told he’s lost the shortstop job.
“No, nothing,” he said. “Spring training is still going. I’m going to bust it until the end. If I’m in the lineup, I’m not going to let them down.”
He wasn’t sure how much outfield we would see in the future. Manager Lloyd McClendon has said they’re just “tinkering.” Franklin wasn’t concerned about learning a different position to go with second base and shortstop.
“I’m still learning it, which is fine,” he said. “It’s nothing new to me. It’s nothing I have to pick up. It’s something I’ve already done. It’s one of those positions I don’t have to take baby steps with it. I already have the feel of it.”
One person that was very curious about Franklin’s conversion to the outfield was Ken Griffey Jr. He called to ask how Franklin looked in the outfield. Griffey has known Franklin since his high school days and was optimistic about the progression.
“I know he can play out there,” he said. “He’s athletic enough. He’s played shortstop and second base, he can handle playing outfield. He’s a good kid. He works hard and wants to get better. I think he’ll be good out there.”
But to Griffey, Franklin’s bat is the key.
“He’s a switch hitter and he can hit,” Griffey said. “You want to keep guys like that.”