PEORIA, Ariz. - Seattle Mariners fans never got to know Jody Gerut, who came to camp as a non-roster player with a good chance to win a job on Eric Wedge's bench.
Gerut retired Sunday, and although there were occasional tears as he explained his decision, he did so with an eloquence and candor that teammates and fans likely would have embraced in 2011.
“One day I would have mishit a ground ball and not run hard to first base and had to answer to my coaches and my teammates for that,” Gerut said. “I don’t want to be that example to young players, to young fans of the game.”
Gerut, 33, played in parts of six big-league seasons, missing two more to a major knee injury, and Seattle would have been his sixth team.
“I didn’t want to play for a paycheck,” Gerut said. “I worked out the same this offseason as any other. I came to camp to compete and win a job – I even wrote that down.”
The last three or four days, Gerut said, the passion that always drove his game wasn’t there. Worse, it had been replaced by something he’d never felt toward playing – apathy.
“When I felt that lack of willingness to compete, it was clear my career as a player was finished,” Gerut said.
“Jody had a legitimate shot to make this team,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “but we understand there comes a time when players need to make decisions that are in the best interests of their families.”
Gerut said when he told his wife, Mary, of his decision, she didn’t even ask the reasons.
“She said, ‘Congratulations,’ ” Gerut said.
The thought of playing for a paycheck, he said, made him “physically sick to my stomach.”
“I refuse to disrespect a game that has provided so generously to my family by playing it in a half-hearted way. The game owes me nothing, but I owe the game at least that much,” Gerut said.
Like all rookies, outfielder Carlos Peguero hoped to make an impression in this camp – and he used the first exhibition game of spring to start.
Trailing the San Diego Padres in the ninth inning, 12-10, the Mariners got a two-out, two-run home run by Peguero to tie it, then saw him throw out the potential go-ahead run at the plate in the top of the 10th.
Josh Bard lined a two-out, bases-loaded single in the 10th to give Seattle a 13-12 win that will count in the Cactus League standings.
“Peguero had a real nice 15 minutes,” manager Eric Wedge deadpanned.
The Mariners are hoping for test results today on outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and his troublesome stomach. He underwent a battery of tests in Seattle on Thursday. ... Seattle piled up 18 hits, with Bard getting three of those after spelling catcher Miguel Olivo. Five Mariners had two hits apiece. ... Eight Mariners pitchers worked the game and only two – the first (Erik Bedard) and the last (Chris Smith) held the Padres scoreless. ... Olivo was charged with a passed ball in the second inning, a play that cost Luke French an unearned run. ... Your RBI leader in the clubhouse? Shortstop Jack Wilson, with three. ... With Gerut’s retirement, the Mariners have 62 players in camp. Of those on the 40-man roster, only one – pitcher David Pauley – has not signed a 2011 contract. ... The Mariners tried to steal twice with Adam Kennedy (safe) and Mike Wilson (out).
The Mariners play the Padres at noon (PST) at Peoria Stadium today. Probable starting pitchers: Doug Fister vs. Wade LeBlanc.