Notes: Special night looms for Wilson

Notes: Special night looms for Wilson

SEATTLE -- The Mariners' series opener against the Athletics on Friday night at Safeco Field is Fan Appreciation Night.

It also could become billed as "Dan Appreciation Night."

Unless something unexpected happens, one of the longest-running batteries in franchise history will be in place for the first pitch of the final series of the season -- left-hander Jamie Moyer throwing to veteran catcher Dan Wilson.

Wilson, who announced Sept. 12 that he would retire at the end of the season, has been with the team the past two weeks getting his surgically repaired right knee prepared for one more outing behind the plate.

"I haven't seen anything to make us think he can't play a little bit," manager Mike Hargrove said.

Moyer and Wilson have formed a successful tandem since the middle of the 1996 season, when the Mariners acquired Moyer from the Red Sox. So, it would seem appropriate to have them as the starting battery one more time.

"I think that would be nice," Wilson said of catching a few more of Moyer's pitches. "We have spent a lot of time together, played together a lot. It would be nice if he were the guy. If it works out, that would be outstanding."

Moyer said, "It's meaningful to me if it's meaningful to him. A great way for him to go out is to catch. That's what he's done his whole life. He's caught me most of my career. I've been here nine-plus years and he's caught me eight-plus years of that. If we can do it together, it would be great. If he can't, I understand that, too. You're dealing with an injury here."

Wilson's last appearance in a game was May 4 against the Angels at Safeco Field. He was injured sliding back into first base, tearing the ACL in his right knee.

It was his 10th game of the season and the 1,237th game he started at catcher for the Mariners, who acquired him from the Reds prior to the 1994 season. He became a fixture behind the plate and only 11 players in American League history caught more games for one team.

The game plan is for Wilson to catch the top of the first inning and ride off into retirement, taking with him a .262 career batting average, 88 home runs and 519 RBIs.

Wilson has not taken any batting practice and acknowledged that coming to bat in his last game is not in the plan.

"I think there is more risk with an at-bat," he said. "I'd rather do the other [catch]."

Looking ahead: The Mariners released the tentative regular season schedule for 2006, which features Interleague series visits to Safeco Field by the Giants (June 16-18), Padres (May 19-21) and Rockies (June 30-July 2).

The Mariners play the Red Sox in two series next season, while the Yankees visit just once (Aug. 22-24). Seattle opens and closes the 2006 season at home, facing the Angels on April 3 in the opener of a three-game series, and ending the regular season with a three-game series against the Rangers Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

If all goes well, the Mariners would open the Division Series on Oct. 3.

Meche in the 'pen: Right-hander Gil Meche won't make another start this season.

After discussions with general manager Bill Bavasi, pitching coach Bryan Price and head trainer Rick Griffin, Hargrove decided that Jeff Harris would start Saturday afternoon's game against the Athletics and Meche would pitch out of the bullpen.

"Hopefully, we'll use him three or four times," Hargrove said. "There is nothing wrong with his arm. It was just dead the other day."

After pitching two scoreless innings of relief against the Blue Jays on Tuesday and hitting 95 mph on the radar gun, Meche started Sunday's game against the Tigers in Detroit but lasted only two innings. His fastball peaked at 91 mph.

Reed returns: Center fielder Jeremy Reed was back in the starting lineup Tuesday night for the series opener against the Rangers. He has been bothered by a sore left wrist.

"It's a day-to-day thing," Hargrove said. "He told me if he got to the point where he couldn't go, he would let me know."

Reed's all-out effort on defense has been painful. He runs into fences and makes diving catches.

"His style of play makes him the player he is," Hargrove said. "When he runs into a wall, he sticks his hand out to brace himself and it hurts his wrist. If he keeps challenging fences the way he has, and I hope he does, then he is going to have to learn to crash into them a little more softly, or brace himself with something else."

On deck: The three-game series continues Wednesday night with right-hander Joel Pineiro (7-10, 5.42 ERA) trying to end his season on a positive note. The Rangers will start right-hander Chris Young (11-7, 4.23 ERA).

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.