Tuesday, March 22, 2011

MARINERS: Infield officially set

Mariners manager Eric Wedge announced today that Jack Wilson will move to second base while Brendan Ryan becomes the new everyday shortstop. Ryan and Wilson have always been the leaders to get second base and shortstop, but it was unclear how who would take what spot.

"We want to do what we feel like is the best fit, the best combo for us up the middle,'' Wedge said. "We could have went either way with it because I think you feel comfortable with those guys on both sides of the bag.''

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Why would the Mariners make this move? Well, Wilson is known for his defense and is quicker than Ryan, so the M’s put him at second to pick up first baseman Justin Smoak’s fielding slack. Chone Figgins is a good enough defender at third base that he doesn't need Wilson's help on balls to his left.

This move likely has a little to do with 2B Dustin Ackley, who is expected to come up from AAA Tacoma to join the big league squad by mid-June.

If you know Ackley will be your daily second baseman come mid-season, what’s the point of Brendan Ryan starting out the season as a Second baseman if he’s eventually going to move to shortstop? The Mariners view Ryan as their shortstop for the future, so why not start him at that position now?

Also, Wilson probably won’t be on the team come October, so you might as well give Ryan the perks of not having to switch positions mid-season.
However, Eric Wedge still views this as a way to help the team now.

"I think that there's a lot that goes into it besides the specifics of play. I like having a veteran on both sides of the infield. You've got Smoak and Jack on one side, you've got Figgy and Ryan on the other side. I think that's a part of it.''

So after all this, the M’s opening day defensive positions will be…

Catcher – Miguel Olivo (if he recovers from injury in time)
First Base – Justin Smoak
Second Base – Jack Wilson
Shortstop – Brendan Ryan
Third base – Chone Figgins
Right Field – Ichiro
Center Field – Franklin Gutierrez
Left Field – Milton Bradley (possibly Michael Saunders)

Reach Nathan Parsons at nathanparsons98@yahoo.com