An outfielder who showed right-handed power in Safeco Field, Casper Wells has been battling an equilibrium problem for weeks and will not play again this season for the Seattle Mariners.
“I didn’t go with the team and I’ve seen a couple of doctors this week and found out what it isn’t, we just haven’t figured out yet what it is,” Wells said. “I don’t want the perception to be I’m taking it easy – the last few weeks, I couldn’t pick up the fastball.
“ At first I thought it was my eyes, then I thought maybe some kind of sinus infection. In the outfield, I was having trouble seeing the ball. At the plate, the only thing I could really pick up was the curve, and I hit one for a home run in the Texas series at home.
“But it wasn’t my sinuses and it isn’t my eyes. I’m seeing another doctor on Tuesday, which means I won’t play again this year.”
Obtained from Detroit as part of the Doug Fister trade – one that sent David Pauley to the Tigers and got a return of Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and a minor league third baseman – Wells made quite a splash in his first weeks with Seattle. In one stretch he homered in four consecutive games at Safeco Field, the kind of right-handed power hitting that got manager Eric Wedge’s attention.
Then came the vertigo, with Wells not only losing balance but having trouble picking up the baseball.
“The night Brandon Morrow hit me in the nose (Aug. 17), I don’t think I reacted very quickly to that inside pitch,” Wells said. “I tried to keep playing. That’s the kind of player I am. If you get an opportunity to play, you don’t want to say ‘I can’t.’ But when you start having trouble with your motor functions, when you can’t pick up a fastball, you’re gambling with your life up there.
“I saw one doctor Monday and a ears, nose and throat specialist Wednesday and I’d hoped to be on a flight to Texas to rejoin the team. It’s not a sinus infection. We still don’t know what it is, I just know what it does.”
General manager Jack Zdurienck, traveling with the Mariners – they’re flying from Minneapolis to Dallas tonight – said the team is ‘confident doctors will pinpoint the issue and handle it appropriately.’
“You’ve seen the power this young man has, you’ve seen the outfield arm,” Zduriencik said. “We’ve liked what we’ve seen in Casper and we’re confident we’ll get that player back and healthy for next spring.”
Wells, 26, will finish the season having played in 31 games for Seattle, batting .216 but with seven home runs and 15 RBI. Combined with his numbers in Detroit, the rookie hit .237 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 215 at-bats with an on-base percentage of .317.