Journeyman seeking call to big leagues with Mariners

Ryan Court, an infielder for Triple-A Tacoma, spent four days rehabbing an injury in Everett.

Ryan Court has seen a lot in affiliated baseball. He’s experienced the frigid, spring night games in the International League and the long travel days in the Pacific Coast League.

His most coveted experience is the one that’s proved most elusive: The majors.

“It would mean a lot,” Court said. “I think for a while I felt like I could have played in the big leagues. I played for two really good organizations that didn’t really need any help in Boston and Chicago. It feels like a good fit (in Seattle) and I really like this organization and if I’m able to help them, that’s the ultimate dream.”

Court, 31, has been seeking a big-league callup ever since reaching Triple-A for the first time in 2016. Drafted in the 23rd round by the Diamondbacks in 2011, Court was released by Arizona in 2015 and subsequently landed with the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association, an independent league team.

He was eventually signed as a minor-league free agent with Boston, splitting time between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket before being released. The Cubs signed him as a minor-league free agent the next year but he couldn’t break through past Triple-A Iowa after two seasons and was released during 2019 spring training.

Court played eight games for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League, another independent league team, before signing with the Mariners in April.

When Edwin Encarnacion was traded to the Yankees, it opened up a spot on the Mariners’ 25-man roster that was filled by Austin Nola, a 29-year-old journeyman, similar to Court. It’s possible that if Court wasn’t injured he would have been considered for that opening, as he posted a slash line of .328/.429/.586 in 17 games before landing on the injured list.

While it was unfortunate timing, Court said the rehab assignment has allowed him to impart some of his knowledge on younger players in Everett, something he said he enjoys doing.

“I think part of being here is being to help guys that are just getting into it,” Court said. “Because when I first started out, I didn’t know and I wish I heard from an older guy that’s been around. Because sometimes as individuals, you hear from a coach, and then you hear from someone that’s been doing it for a while, sometimes it will resonate more. I’ve been around, I’ve seen a lot of really good players, so anything I can help these guys out with, I’d love to build their confidence.

“There’s a lot of guys with a lot of talent here and sometimes hearing it from an older guy or one that’s been up at higher levels, it means a lot to these guys.”

Court is expected to have the day-off on Friday before returning to the Rainiers on Saturday. He was productive for the AquaSox during his four rehab games, hitting .400 with a 1.300 on-base-plus slugging over 10 at-bats.

Although he’s hopeful that he can reach the majors with Seattle, he’s not letting that get in the way of his day-to-day process.

“It’s more of the feeling inside of just knowing I can play in the big leagues,” Court said. “If it happens or not, that’s out of my control. When I was younger, I really wanted to control the uncontrollables. And I know I can play at that level, and if it doesn’t happen, then it wasn’t in the cards. But if it does I’ll help the team out.”

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