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Seattle Mariners

After eight years of the grind, Marcus Wilson makes his major league debut with the Mariners

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – As public address announcer Tom Huytler’s unmistakable baritone boomed his name and number as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, and the guitar riff and hard drumbeat of his walk-up song – Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” – rang out through the sound system of T-Mobile Park, Marcus Wilson was officially a Major League Baseball player – a moment eight years in the making.

Intent on getting a hit, Wilson quickly readied himself to face hard-throwing right-hander Jorge Lopez in his first big league at-bat.

Veteran umpire Doug Eddings, understanding the situation, motioned for Wilson to step out of the box for a moment and soak in the ovation he was receiving from the announced crowd 17,412.

You only get one first big league at-bat, and when you’ve waited as long as Wilson – eight minor league seasons, 660 games and 2,756 plate appearances, there is no reason to rush.

After a few seconds, Wilson dug in and delivered a mature, professional plate appearance, working a walk off Lopez, fouling off four pitches of 98 mph or higher and not chasing off-speed pitches thrown to get him to chase.

“It was great,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Anytime guys get called up, you’re hoping to get them in there. I thought it was an awesome at-bat against a really good pitcher. (Lopez) has got great stuff. (Wilson) came out swinging and competed well.”

It drew plenty cheers from his teammates, who assembled on the rail of the dugout for his debut.

“Good for him,” Servais said. “He has grinded through the minor leagues to get this opportunity today. Everybody’s excited for him. It worked out great to able to get him in there. We’ll see where it leads from there.”

Wilson, who turns 26 on Aug. 15, had his minor league contract selected from Triple-A Tacoma before Wednesday afternoon’s game vs. the Baltimore Orioles and was added the active roster in a series of pregame roster moves that included optioning infielder Kevin Padlo back to Tacoma and transferring Tom Murphy, who is having shoulder surgery, to the 60-day injured list.

Utility player Sam Haggerty was also recalled from Tacoma and had three hits Wednesday.

The need to add Wilson came after Taylor Trammell was placed on the 10-day injured list with right hamstring strain and the looming suspensions for outfielders Jesse Winker and Julio Rodriguez.

Wilson was sitting on the rooftop of his residence with friend and teammate Joe Odom when he got a call from Rainiers manager Tim Federowicz at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“It’s not like he’s calling just for anything,” Wilson said. “After he told me, I just blacked out and then I started crying. I’ve been waiting this call for eight years. It’s been a lot of hard walk and grind and grit. It all pays off, you know?”

When he finally was able to gather his emotions and wipe the away tears, Wilson went downstairs and told his wife and facetimed his mom. More tears flowed from everyone.

“My mom has seen me play since I was picking up a bat in Tee-ball,” Wilson said. “You can kind of just see it in her eyes. All that emotion kind of comes out. There’s nothing like it. There really is nothing like it.”

Wilson was a standout player for Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California.

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected him out of high school in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft. In April 2019, he was sent to Boston in a trade for catcher Blake Swihart. The Red Sox added him to the 40-man roster going into the 2020 season, but he didn’t play because of the cancellation of the minor league season. He seemed poised to debut in 2021, but when the Red Sox acquired reliever Hansel Robles on July 30, he was designated for assignment and the Mariners claimed him off waivers.

After finishing the 2021 season with Tacoma, the Mariners put him on their taxi squad for their potential postseason roster. But they fell two games short. They designated him for assignment in October to clean up the roster. Instead of trying free agency, he accepted the outright assignment and remained in the organization.

After a slow start with the Rainiers, he has gotten hot of late, racking up six doubles, and five homers in his last 17 games.

“I was just trying to find my stride,” he said. “Sometimes I’ve been known to start slow and then finally catch my stride about 100 at-bats in or so. So I’m just looking to continue to build off that and help the team win by any means necessary.”