03/08/09 4:30 PM EST
Corcoran keeps clubhouse light
Mariners reliever always putting smiles on teammates' faces
By Jim Street / MLB.com
The first time Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu met last season's Unsung Hero was in late January, during FanFest week in Seattle. The scouting report was right on the dog-gone money."His reputation preceded him," Wakamatsu said prior to Sunday's Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. "People told me I would love this guy." It took just one conversation at Safeco Field for the manager to understand why the 28-year-old right-hander is regarded internally as the most popular player on the team. Teammates use words such as "hilarious," "funny," "comedian" and "outrageous" to describe Corcoran. "He's as country as they come," Wakamatsu said. "He doesn't try to be funny, he just is." As Mariners first baseman Bryan LaHair put it, "Corky wouldn't need a script to be a stand-up comedian. All he needs is someone to talk to." The good times roll when Corcoran opens his mouth. You know what's going in -- usually some dip -- but you never know what's going to come out. More times than not, it will be funny. "He's funny because of his accent," catcher Jamie Burke said. "Everything he says sounds funny. You never know what he's talking about, but if you really want to know, he'll tell you." During the first couple of weeks of Spring Training, Wakamatsu would meet with a small group of players in his office each day for a getting-to-know-you session. "We asked everybody who they thought they were close to on the team and everybody said him [Corcoran]," Wakamatsu said. On the day Corcoran's group was in the office, he had his manager in stitches. "I asked him about his hobbies, and he said he loves tractors," Wakamatsu said. "I said, 'Big tractors?' He said 'Oh, about the size of your desk, without the seat on it.'" Wakamatsu did a double-take then, and still has no clue whatsoever what a tractor seat had to do with the desk in his office. "He doesn't come in and try to be the class clown," Wakamatsu added. "He's not into practical jokes. He's not screwing around. He's just funny. To me, he lightens the mood and makes it so people can compete better. "He's in a good mood every day he comes here. [Mike] Sweeney is the same way, and these guys are infectious. They walk into a room and put smiles on three or four people around them." Among other things, Wakamatsu and his coaching staff are trying to build clubhouse camaraderie, and personalities like Corcoran are priceless. "He's an 'adder,'" the manager said. That's the term Wakamatsu learned when he was a Minor League manager in the Angels' organization in 2000. He was driving to Erie, Penn., when he noticed a large facility called the Christian Sports Academy. Wakamatsu decided to check it out, and he talked to one of the instructors, who explained that the school provided a leadership program for kids from around the country. "I asked him if he minded if I brought my team over there one day, and I took about 13 players, including John Lackey and Shawn Wooten," Wakamatsu recalled. "One of the things [the instructor] talked about was that players on most teams fit into three categories -- 'adders,' 'subtracters' and 'neutrals.' "And he was right. Some guys come in and they are just there. They don't take away, or add, anything. They are basically followers. Those are the neutral guys. The subracters are the negative ones that take guys down with them. "And there are adders, the guys that make three or four guys around them better. Corky is an 'adder.'" And a whole lot of fun to be around. "It wouldn't be any fun if nobody laughs," Corcoran said in his Southern drawl. "You need to have a good time, and this is the place to do it. It's always fun in the locker room." Ask him if his distinctive dialect has a name and the reliever says, "I have no idear." "In my town, the majority of the people talk just like me," Corcoran said. "Drive about 10 miles south and nobody speaks like us. But we're not Cajun. Those are the people that live in New Orleans and Lafayette and the small towns down there. We live a few miles from the Mississippi border and we all talk like this when we're around the home folk. "I try to clean it up when I get around these sophisticated people." With that, the four teammates within listening range were cracking up. "My wife is probably going to kill me for saying this," Corcoran said, "but even she has the same drawl I do." The reliever wed Lacy during the offseason, and while he goes about earning a spot in the Mariners' bullpen this spring, she is attending college, studying veterinary medicine. "She's my 401(k), my retirement plan," Corcoran said, laughing. Corcoran said they met a little more than three years ago. She worked behind the counter at a golf course. "I found a reason to go there every day," he said. "I would even go there as a single and play by myself, and I would never do that before. It took me awhile just to get up enough courage to talk to her. I was nervous for some reason and couldn't even ask her for a date. "She kind of ended up asking me." They had been conversing on the telephone regularly, but he just didn't have the nerve to ask her to go to a movie or dinner. "She finally said, 'Do you want to go eat or something?'" He did, and, being a gentleman, offered to pick her up in his truck. "We went out and had a great time," Corcoran said. "I think I had crab cakes. Not sure what Lacy had. But one thing I do remember is after we got done with dinner and were walking to my truck to leave, I asked her, 'Do you mind if I take a dip [of tobacco]?' "She said she didn't mind."
It was love at first chew, so to speak. They tied the knot last November and are living happily ever after.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.