Wilson eager to partake in playoff race

Wilson eager to partake in playoff race

SEATTLE -- When Jack Wilson entered the Mariners' dugout in the seventh inning Wednesday afternoon, Ken Griffey Jr. welcomed him in his own Junior way.

"Oh, yeah, he walked in and I called him Steve-O, you know, from 'Jackass,''' Griffey said. "If you see him, he looks just like him. I've been calling him that for years. I welcome my teammates, a quick verbal jab and I move on.''

But Griffey also was quick to say that Wilson, part of a seven-player deal that brought him to Seattle, is welcomed for what he can provide.

"Defensively, he's one of the best,'' Griffey added. "You saw about a week, 10 days ago, the play he made from his knees. He's a guy who's going to make us strong up the middle.''

Wilson and right-hander Ian Snell were acquired from Pittsburgh. In return, the Mariners sent out shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Minor League first baseman/catcher Jeff Clement and Minor League right-handers Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic.

"I got here right as Griffey was hitting a two-run double down the line, so I was pretty pumped,'' said Wilson, who watched the end of Seatlle's 3-2 victory over Toronto. "I was pretty excited to walk into that, put on the uniform, went in the bathroom and kind of looked at myself and was like, 'All right, I'm a Mariner.'

"The last time I was on a winning team that was going for something in the playoffs, I was in junior college, sophomore year in Oxnard, Southern California. That's something I've been missing,'' he added. "So that's why I'm really excited about coming here. I know the team's good, I know we're in a race. I played against a lot of the guys here, obviously having some of the best baseball players in the history of the game, in Griffey and Ichiro [Suzuki]. I'm just excited to not only be here but learn from them as well.''

Wilson, 31, had spent his entire career with the Pirates. He has a career .978 fielding percentage, fourth-highest among active players (minimum of 650 games). That's what he brings to Seattle.

"Obviously, defense is kind of my thing. It's kind of what I've done to get to the big leagues and stay in the big leagues,'' Wilson said. "I like to know the pitches, ask pitchers what they like to throw so I can get better reads on guys on those swings, on their shoulders, on their hands, stuff like that.''

Wilson even got some praise from outgoing shortstop Ronny Cedeno, who he used to play against when Cedeno was with the Cubs.

"For me, he 's a really good defensive player,'' Cedeno said. "He's going to help with the team right here. He can hit, he pick, he can steal a base. He's a great player. He's kind of like a Latin guy out there, like [Omar] Vizquel. He makes good plays, he has good range, good hands. He's a smart guy.''

Wilson likely will be the regular shortstop for the rest of the season. The club also has an option for next season.

"You hear your name through rumors the last couple years and you try to prepare for it, but nothing really prepares you,'' Wilson added. "I'm just real excited for the opportunity to win and to play some pretty meaningful games in this part of the season, which we weren't able to do in my career in Pittsburgh."

Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.