July 17, 1997 in Sports

M’S Wilson Uses Force Of Arm To Handcuff Running Games

Gary Brooks Tacoma News Tribune

More so than most position players, Dan Wilson’s arm can have just as great an impact on a game for the Seattle Mariners as his bat.

Wilson has developed into one of the finest catchers in the American League, in part because he can halt an opponent’s running game.

Major-league catchers on a whole throw out about 25 percent of those attempting to steal a base.

But entering the game Wednesday against Minnesota, Wilson had thrown out 35 of 77 opposing runners attempting to steal. At 45 percent, he and Florida Marlins catcher Charles Johnson are the elite of each league.

The average baserunner takes 3.5 seconds to run from first to second, and pitchers generally deliver the ball to the plate in 1.1 to 1.5 seconds. That leaves catchers approximately 2 seconds to come out of their crouch and put a throw right on second base for the middle infielders to apply a tag.

So understandably, percentages aren’t expected to be high.

“The key to it is pitchers giving you time,” Wilson said. “Our pitchers as a staff have done a great job with that. They’ve done very well and give me a lot of time. That’s really half the battle.”

Given that time, Wilson takes pride in being able to affect the game on defense as much as with his bat.

“Any time you can take a baserunner off the bases, whether it’s an outfield assist or whatever, it’s a big lift,” Wilson said. “The pitcher can relax a bit.”

Wilson also has bolstered Seattle’s defense by not giving up many passed balls. Only one pitch has gotten away from Wilson this season, a league best. By contrast, Boston Red Sox catchers had 23 passed balls entering Wednesday.

Another shot for Hurtado

Edwin Hurtado makes his fourth attempt to earn a permanent spot on the Mariners’ pitching staff tonight when he starts against Minnesota. Hurtado made the club out of spring training, but an 8.76 earned-run average after three weeks got him demoted to Tacoma.

Consecutive shutouts for the Rainiers have brought Hurtado back and moved Derek Lowe to the bullpen. How the move works over the next two weeks before the July 31 trading deadline could determine the extent of trades in the coming days.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email