A familiar face joins camp

willie 1.JPG

Former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson listens intently to coach James Horner

Another familiar face stopped by the big-league clubhouse this morning.

Former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson joined the Spring Training workouts and will spend the next four days primarily working with the Minor League catchers.

Wilson, who played 12 of his 14 big-league seasons with the Mariners and retired in 2005, is trim and looks more like someone in his late 20s than someone about to turn 41 — March 25.

“It looks like he can strap it on with the rest of them,” Minor League coach Roger Hansen said of Wilson.

That he does.

Wilson is one of two former Mariners working with the Minor Leaguers. Jay Buhner will spend about a week with the kids later this month.

“He’s going to block and throw on field 2 for old time’s sake. Then, we’ll see how he looks and go from there.”

Though he batted a respectable .262 with 88 home runs 519 RBIs during his MLB career, Wilson is regarded as the best defensive catcher in franchise history.

“He was solid with everytrhing and that’s what made him so good for so long.” Hansen said. “He was consistent. Extremely smart. The pitchers trusted him. They believed he would do the best thing for them and that’s what he did.”

Hansen said Wilson’s work ethic was second to none, starting in Spring Training.

“People don’t realize that when people came off the field, he would be on field 2 working on things,” Hansen said. “Everyone else was inside getting ready for the game. That was his style. That’s what he liked to do and he didn’t want a lot of people around. He just would Do his thing. We would even go to field 6, do things and he would come back and be ready to play.”

Willie, as he was known to his teammates, looked around the big-league clubhouse and said that this could be a special Mariners team this season.

“How is Bedard doing?” he asked.

Told that the left-hander seems to be progressing well and could be joining the rotation sometime in late May, at the earliest, he said, “That would be three horses in the rotation.”

In the meantime, he’ll be working on the back fields with the kids.

“It’s nice to have him around,” Hansen said.All the kids love him. He ois  very much a part of everything here.”

Today’s lineup:

Ichiro, RF
Chone Figgins, 2B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Jose Lopez, 3B
Ryan Garko, DH
Eric Byrnes, LF
Ryan Langerhans, CF
Adam Moore, C
Josh Wilson, SS
Ian Snell, P

— Jim Street

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