By Kirby Arnold
There were more than 9,000 at this afternoon’s game against the Cubs, and I’m going out on a limb here but just guessing more than a couple of them thought No. 24 with the Mariners was Ken Griffey Jr.
The real No. 24 plays tonight against the Padres. The kid who was so impressive this afternoon, just as he’s been throughout spring training, was minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies, who spent most of last summer playing for the Everett AquaSox.
Gillies went 2-for-4, including a triple into the right-field corner that featured his blazing speed. He also unleashed a throw from deep center field to third base that made it clear he’s got a gun for an arm.
This spring training has brought an incredible opportunity for Gillies, the Vancouver, B.C., native who was the Mariners’ 26th-round draft pick in 2006. He has played 14 games and, while batting .280, has shown great range in the outfield, a nice glove, strong arm and speed on the bases that makes managers notice.
Don Wakamatsu certainly has.
“We’re talking about a kid who was in rookie ball last year.,” Wakamatsu said. “He offers an awful lot. He’s an exciting young player. He’s played all three defensive positions for us. That’s exciting to have.”
Oh, and one other thing.
Gillies is legally deaf. He wears a hearing aid in each ear and reads lips. Wakamatsu said the only time he’s seen it be a problem is when Gillies runs the bases and is wearing a helmet.
“It’s quite a story,” Wakamatsu said.
Want to read more? Here’s a story on Gillies written last June by Nick Patterson, who covers the AquaSox for The Herald.