A few months ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates offered Jack Wilson a contract extension that he deemed low, given his career there.
As time went on, he called the team and asked if they could discuss his contract once again – and was told it was too late, he’d just been traded to Seattle.
For a man who’s big-league roots were in Pittsburgh, that was a blow he still hasn’t quite gotten past.
In Seattle, everything he tried was less successful than it had been in the National League, where he knew the pitchers, knew how to position himself for hitters. At the plate, he floundered, hitting .200 in his first 23 games.
Wilson strained a hamstring and watched his backup hit over .300 with three home runs in a week. When he returned, he made and error and still didn’t hit.
On Friday, with two outs and the bases loaded in a scoreless game, Wilson did what he’d worked all afternoon with batting coach Alan Cockrell trying.
He hit the ball up the middle, the first two-run single of his Seattle career. It led to the team’s 72nd victory.
“I got a call from my agent a couple of days ago. He asked if I was on a suicide watch yet,” Wilson said.
“I knew the transition would be tough – new ball parks, all new pitchers, new everything,” Wilson said. “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been struggling. I’ve been trying to pull everything.
“It was refreshing to have a little success.”
Finally, he is beginning to feel like a Mariner, if not as much as a Pirate, then more than he was the day of the trade. He is dealing with the same thing Adrian Beltre dealt with when he signed here as a free agent – a longing for things familiar, for teammates he’d come up with, coaches he knew and who knew him.
Beltre never totally stopped missing the Dodgers. Wilson may never stop wishing things had been different with the Pirates. But both are Mariners, trying to help this franchise complete one of the largest one-year turnaround in franchise history.
It’s a start.