There were no quiet days this winter for Dan Wilson. Not as long as he could hear the telephone ring.
And, toward the end of a players strike that lasted eight months, the calls interrupted one another, they came so frequently.
“It reached the point late in the strike where if I was on the phone with someone, the other line would click,” Wilson said. “I became wellrounded in the world of labor relations.”
Wilson catches for the Mariners, playing a position most consider the toughest in baseball. Not true. Wilson found a tougher one - that of player representative.
“There were advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “The disadvantage was there was never a break. Other players needed to be kept informed, there were meetings, conference calls. The phone never stopped ringing.
“The advantage was I knew firsthand what was going on, and not knowing would have been tougher. The whole thing was uncomfortable - I would like for all this not to have happened.”
Baseball is back and Wilson is playing. Catching, throwing, hitting, working with a pitching staff he had to learn last season while introducing himself to the American League, as well.
Defensively, he was rock-solid. Offensively, there were times he felt rock-bottom - finishing with a .216 average, three home runs and 27 RBIs.
Wilson is 26 and in love with a game he hasn’t played since Aug. 11. There were times, he admits, he wasn’t sure when he would play it again.
“We all wondered when it would end, if it would end, how it would end,” he said. “The irony is it didn’t end with a settlement.”
That preys on Wilson, who is not quite the average player. A University of Minnesota graduate - mechanical engineering - he is analytical, prone to think before he speaks.
This spring, he is confronted with two challenges, one on the field, one off.
The Mariners acquired left-handed hitting catcher Chad Kreuter as a free agent, and manager Lou Piniella declared the position open, while acknowledging that Wilson’s touch in handling the pitching staff was a plus.
“Competition makes you better - that’s the nature of competition,” Wilson said.
Racing toward a regular season that is only a week away, the Mariners think Wilson will be a better hitter in ‘95, whether he is the No. 1 starter or in a platoon role with Kreuter.
Oakland trips Seattle, 5-1
Mark McGwire struck out twice in his first game this spring, but Todd Stottlemyre succeeded in his Oakland debut as the Athletics beat Seattle 5-1. Mike Gallego, Geronimo Berroa and Jose Herrera had run-scoring singles for the Athletics.
Mariners sign top pick
Seattle signed catcher Jason Varitek, its first pick in the June draft, to a one-year contract. The deal is believed to be worth $650,000 to $700,000.
Varitek, the 14th player chosen in the draft, will be assigned to the Mariners’ Class AA farm club in Wilmington, N.C.
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