SEATTLE – Ever wonder what the showers look like inside the Seattle Mariners’ clubhouse? Mariners closer David Aardsma tweeted a photo a few weeks ago.
Want to see the view from the Safeco Field roof? Aardsma is working on that.
Aardsma, 140 characters at a time via Twitter, is bonding with fans this season in ways he never imagined thanks to the link that form of social media provides. He has answered fans’ questions, shown them photos, asked for advice himself and generally provided insight into life as a major leaguer.
“It’s nice to be more connected with fans who you can’t connect with,” Aardsma said. “There are really only two times when you are out there able to talk to them, either batting practice or during the game. During the game you’re limited because you can’t be too distracted. And during batting practice you only get that little bit of time, before you start or afterwards.”
The 24-7 link to Aardsma, and many other major league players, managers, teams, media and fans, is via Twitter. Follow Aardsma at @TheDA53 and fans may be surprised at what they’ll learn.
“Morning. Heading over to Safeco for a workout. What parts of the stadium have you never seen? I’ll post pics of whatever you want”
Aardsma wrote that tweet on May 25, and the feedback was immediate and specific.
“That’s a neat part about being connected,” he said. “What do you want to see? I can give them access they’ve never had. Somebody wanted to see the shower, so OK, here you go. Somebody wanted to see the locker room, somebody wanted to see the kitchen. Someone wanted to see from the top of the roof. I have access to that, but I just haven’t had the (time) where I can spend an hour up there moving around.”
But he will, Aardsma says.
He has more then 3,000 followers. It’s not huge by major league standards, Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (@RealKingFelix) has more than 18,000, but Aardsma has enjoyed the interaction with fans near and far.
“There are fans in Japan who are tweeting me, fans in Europe,” he said. “It’s kind of neat for fans who can’t sit here and cheer for us because now they feel like they’re a part of the Mariners.”
They ask about Aardsma’s recovery from hip surgery and a forearm injury, and he gladly responds. They also make suggestions, including medical advice.
“There were people trying to get my MRIs to read them,” he said. “Some people want to be way too involved, but it’s nice. People mean well. It’s nice to be that involved. If I want to go to a restaurant, I might put out a tweet, ‘What restaurant should I go to?’ And a lot of people have suggestions. That’s cool. Nobody would ever think a Major League Baseball player would be asking that.”
But followers also can use Twitter to vent, and Aardsma has heard it. He knows dealing with criticism is part of his job, but when the words get vicious and personal toward a teammate, he draws a firm line.
“I try to run a clean twitter account, I might have fun but talking crap about my teammates is uncalled-for”
Aardsma wrote that on June 14 after a fan tweeted some venomous words about third baseman Chone Figgins, relief pitcher Jamey Wright and starter Jason Vargas.
“I can take as much criticism about myself as anybody. I’ve been through as many ups and downs as you can get in this game,” Aardsma said. “But I don’t want to hear it about other people. I’m not the person to go to. Write all you want on your normal tweets, but don’t include me. I don’t get what people feel in being able to yell at me about somebody else. What do they think they’re going to get out of it?”
Except for Major League Baseball’s guideline that cell phones can’t be used while a game is in process, the Mariners don’t have a firm set of do’s and don’ts for players using social media.
“There’s the understanding that you don’t cross that line,” Aardsma said. “Enjoy it and have fun with it, but don’t step over that boundary.”