SEATTLE -- For much of the season, Jack Wilson has been something of a forgotten man on the Mariners bench. But with Brendan Ryan on the 15-day disabled list with a problematic left shoulder, the veteran infielder is flashing his abilities at shortstop.
Wilson, 33, had just 11 at-bats in five games in July, but with both Ryan and Chone Figgins out, he's hit .352 (12-for-34) in August and has been strong with the glove.
"You can't replace Brendan, but while he's gone, I'll just go out and have fun and throw the ball around and dive around," said Wilson, who made an outstanding full-extension stop of a line drive by Boston's Dustin Pedroia in Sunday's 5-3 win. "It's nice to be able to get in there and contribute a little bit."
Wilson got his 11th start of the season at shortstop in Monday night's 6-5 win over the Blue Jays. He's also started 39 games at second base and one at third this year after coming into this season having never played anywhere but shortstop in his 10-year Major League career.
So, no, going back to shortstop hasn't been a problem.
"Maybe the first game back is kind of like, that's really far," Wilson said, pretending to peer across the diamond. "But I was out there a couple of times before Brendan got hurt. It's like riding a bike. It just falls back into place. It's comfortable. That's a nice feeling, being comfortable."
Manager Eric Wedge appreciates what Wilson has offered after what he knows has been a difficult season for the veteran.
"He's very athletic," Wedge said. "That was a great play [on Pedroia's line drive]. When he has been in there, he plays a real good shortstop, or wherever he's played for us, second or third. He fights through at-bats, too. He gets some big knocks and has hit his fair share of doubles. He's playing good baseball."
Ray released to make room for Hultzen
SEATTLE -- Mariners reliever Chris Ray was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list, but after he played catch for the first time on Monday, the Mariners released him to make room on the 40-man roster for newly signed top Draft pick Danny Hultzen.
Ray strained a muscle behind his right shoulder late last month and is just now beginning to throw again.
Ray had plenty of company in the training room, as Brendan Ryan (strained left shoulder), Chone Figgins (strained right hip flexor) and Justin Smoak (fractured nose and cheek) are also on the 15-day DL.
Figgins is eligible to return Wednesday, and Ryan on Friday. Manager Eric Wedge said both will go with the team on its upcoming road trip, which begins Friday in Tampa, and decisions will be made after that.
Ryan said Monday he hopes to be ready when his DL time expires, but he's yet to begin fielding ground balls or swinging the bat. For now he can only run ... and fret.
"I try not to sit down," the hyperactive shortstop said. "I'm in the pool, eating food, running the bases. Somewhere in motion."
Veteran infielder Adam Kennedy is not on the disabled list, but he has played just once in the past five games and will likely be held out at least until Wednesday as he tries to rest a sore left heel.
"I'm just giving him some more time," Wedge said. "He'd go out there and play in a second if I put him in there, but we need to do the smart thing by him. He's been a trooper for us all year, now we need to take care of him a little bit."
Wells making himself right at home at Safeco
SEATTLE -- Safeco Field has a well-earned reputation as a difficult place for right-handed hitters, but new outfielder Casper Wells apparently didn't get that memo.
Wells, acquired from the Tigers in the Doug Fister trade on July 30, owns a seven-game home hitting streak with four home runs in his past five starts, including the go-ahead jack in the eighth inning of Monday's 6-5 win over Toronto.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound rookie has hit .440 (11-for-25) in his first seven games in Safeco, and is loving every minute of the new opportunity.
"I think a lot of things contribute to when you're doing well," Wells said. "You have to have a good, positive frame of mind and be surrounded by good people. Hitting is kind of contagious. Everyone seems to be having good at-bats and swinging the bat well."
The Mariners have gone 9-6 since Wells' arrival and entered Monday batting .282 as a club in August, so he's having a hard time understanding what went wrong during the 17-game skid prior to his arrival.
"For me, the record starts since I've been here, and I think we've been doing pretty well," Wells said. "We've been upsetting some teams that are competing for playoff spots. We're handling our business out here, and I'm feeling really comfortable with the team and starting to settle in a little more."
As for his power surge? Wells noted he's not exactly used to batting in a bandbox.
"You know, I came from Comerica Park," he said. "At least I have a better chance of getting it out to center here. Comerica is kind of a graveyard in center, too. But I don't know. Maybe it's the added adrenaline. The ball is flying pretty good."