By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Mariners asked and Chris Woodward wasn’t about to say “no.” Woodward, the Mariners’ minor-league infield coordinator, has traveled to Texas with the team.
Woodward was in the dugout with the team during the Tampa Bay series since he lives in the area. But general manager Jack Zduriencik asked Woodward to stay with the team to continue to work with, tutor and be there for rookies Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, who he worked with in spring training and in the minor leagues earlier this season.
“I don’t know if it is a comfort thing for some of these guys, but they asked me to come along, so of course I will,” Woodward said. “I will help them as much as I can.”
Acting manager Robby Thompson is the team’s infield coach, but his managerial duties in the absence of Eric Wedge make that job difficult. Thompson was more than pleased to have Woodward around.
“He’s a good guy to have here,” Thompson said. “He did a great job down below. He can only help.”
When Woodward visited Miller and Franklin when they were in the minor leagues, he warned them how difficult the adjustment would be at the big-league level.
“I explained to them when they were down there that up here it’s a little different,” Woodward said. “Every little thing that happens gets exposed or gets scrutinized. Watching how they are dealing with it is big and how they move forward.”
While both seem to be adjusting well, Woodward doesn’t want them to be satisfied.
“To be a good major-league shortstop and second baseman, it’s not always just about making the routine plays,” Woodward said. “You need to turn those tough double plays and make those tough plays. The good ones do it. The ones that stay at this level for a long time do it.”
There is only one way to get to that point — hard work.
“Your work every day determines how you play on a daily basis,” Woodward said. “If you consistently prepare for those plays, they become routine. Brendan (Ryan) is pretty good at that. He works at it. I think it’s good for them to see how hard he works.”
Effort isn’t a problem for Miller or Franklin.
“Miller is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around …,” Woodward said. “Nick was working his tail off in Tacoma when I saw him.”
Mike Zunino is progressing quite quickly in his recovery from surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. Zunino has started baseball activities. He hit off the tee Friday and will take batting practice hopefully as soon as next week.
Zunino, who went on the DL on July 26, has vowed to return faster than Ken Griffey Jr. did when he suffered the same injury and was out just 23 days. Zunino is running out of time in beating Griffey. And the Mariners will likely be careful with him since the season is pretty much lost. But they are happy with the recovery.
“He’s really working hard at it,” Thompson said. “He’s champing at the bit to get back. He’s working his way to regular BP. And hopefully we can get him on a little rehab assignment.”
For people looking to listen to the radio broadcast of the Mariners game today in the Puget Sound area, they won’t find it on 710 AM because of a conflict with the Seattle Seahawks preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Instead, the Mariners-Rangers game will be broadcast live on 770 AM.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (12-5, 2.28 ERA) will get the start on the mound for the Mariners. Texas will go with left-hander Martin Perez (5-3, 3.44 ERA). First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.