EVERETT — A number of former Seattle Mariners remain in the organization either as coaches or commentators, and former All-Star and Mariners Hall of Fame catcher Dan Wilson is no exception.
Now the Mariners’ minor league defensive coordinator, Wilson is a periodic visitor at Everett Memorial Stadium where he’s spent the past week working with the Everett AquaSox players.
“My role changed a little bit,” Wilson said, following batting practice Friday evening prior to Everett’s game against the Hillsboro Hops. “I stepped back a little bit this year, but I’m still getting a chance to come up here and get down to Tacoma a little bit and fill in where needed. It’s been good to see these guys get cranked up and get the season underway up here.”
Wilson played in one game with the AquaSox on a rehab assignment in 2000, homering during the game and scoring twice. A former first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds, Wilson spent parts of two seasons in Class A ball.
He agrees there is something special about the short-season experience.
“For a number of guys it’s their first taste of professional baseball,” Wilson said. “I think Arizona becomes very familiar because you’re there for spring training and even though it’s the AZL season things there are very familiar. To come up here is unfamiliar territory so to speak. You’re with host families, which do a great job and it’s a much different experience off the field and on the field. It’s great to see how they respond to it.”
After debuting with the Reds in 1992, Wilson was traded to the Mariners with Bobby Ayala prior to the 1994 season for Bret Boone and pitcher Erik Hanson. Wilson went on to become a fan favorite and an All-Star during his 12 years in a Mariners uniform, and was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame in 2012.
This week isn’t the first chance he’s had to interact with this particular group of Mariners prospects, who were in extended spring training in Arizona prior to coming to Everett last Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve spent a lot of time with them, but I’ve seen them come through the system,” Wilson said, “and from going down to the Dominican (Republic) a couple of times and seeing them as youngsters and then developing and then getting to Arizona and then eventually up here. A lot of these guys you kind of see over the course of the seasons.”
He will likely get a new crew of Mariners prospects on his next visit as the 2017 college draftees are expected to arrive in Everett next week.
Wilson remains active in the Seattle community and is a spokesman for CHI Franciscan Health’s Northwest Healthy campaign. In addition to hospital visits, Wilson has filmed a number of commercials that air on Root Sports during Mariners games — including one where he hits specially made dinner plates with a bat inside the visitor’s batting cage at Safeco Field.
“Nobody got hurt in the filming of that commercial, is what I’m trying to say,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve never hit a plate before, but it was fun and the message is good, too, so that makes it even better.”
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