2B Kolten Wong excited both to join Mariners, play with new shift rule

Feb 2, 2023, 2:32 PM
Mariners Kolten Wong...
Kolten Wong takes a throw at second base in a Brewers game against the Cubs on Aug. 20, 2022. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The Mariners have a new second baseman in Kolten Wong, who comes to Seattle after spending the last two years with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Drayer on Mariners: What we know and what will be answered in spring

Wong joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob on Wednesday to discuss what he saw from the Mariners from afar last season, and he also dove into how the new limitations on defensive shifts will impact him at second base.

As far as the 2022 Mariners are concerned, the two-time Gold Glover noted that the he can see how things really started to click last year after Seattle had been in a “rebuilding stage” for a bit.

“You just saw the youth that was accumulated and the talent that was accumulated over the years,” Wong said. “And I think just from an outside perspective, it was almost like you’re seeing the Seattle Mariners take a step forward in just like, overall, I guess, respect as an organization. It was almost like they knew how to transform these young guys into incredible players, they knew how to turn these guys into incredible pitchers, and I think everybody started catching on to that towards the end of the season.”

Something the Mariners did last year that caught a lot of attention was their postgame circle dance.

Wong called it “one of the coolest things to see.”

“You want to see the excitement of the players and the fun. Seeing that, and realizing that when I got traded over, that’s something that I want to do, too,” he said. “Just visualizing it right now for the season, I can’t wait to start.”

New Mariners 2B on board with shift change

In 2023, there will need to be two infielders on each side of second base, and they will be required to their feet on the infield dirt when the pitch is being delivered. That means no more extreme shifts that saw three infielders on the right side of second base as well as second basemen like Wong playing in shallow right field.

Wong is a big fan of that new rule change.

“I think it’s definitely huge,” he said. “I think the whole reason why the shift was kind of created was to find positions for guys with big bats. And I think now you’re starting to realize with the shift being gone, you’re gonna have to have athletes out there. You’re going to have to have guys who understand and respect the position, and I’m excited to get to that.”

“I think baseball kind of started losing its identity for a little while when we had all these things kind of going on, and I think it’s definitely bringing that identity back to kind of the way that the game was originally played,” Wong added. “… I feel like it’s gonna show who the real second baseman are, and guys that work and really care about being good on both sides of ball.”

During Wong’s press conference for Mariners media day on Wednesday, Wong said something that stood out in regards to the new shift limitations. He said that the shift actually negatively impacted him defensively compared to playing a more traditional second base. Wong followed up on those comments when talking to Wyman and Bob.

“I was a guy in right field basically, so fielding that ground ball going from grass onto dirt and kicking back on the grass again – with the way they cut the grass, it would take some weird hops and it would take some weird turns on you,” he said. “When they put you in situations or shift sometimes, I feel like you weren’t prepared for those ground balls. As a position player, you play a position for so long, so you get used to a certain angle. And I feel like for me at second base, sometimes I would go across the bag, or if I went too far into the outfield I could not read the ball, and I feel like that was a big thing for me … Off the bat, it was just different.”

Listen to the full interview with Wong at this link or in the player below.

Fann: Five Mariners takeaways from Jerry Dipoto with Wyman & Bob

Wyman & Bob

Date Starting Pitcher
Sunday, March 26 @ 1:10 pm

Wyman and Bob

Mariners Logan Gilbert...
Brandon Gustafson

Mariners’ Gilbert: Team’s ‘momentum’ for 2023, impact of new rule changes

Young Mariners RHP Logan Gilbert joined Wyman & Bob to talk the team heading into 2023, the new MLB rule changes and much more.
2 days ago
Mariners pitching...
Brandon Gustafson

Justin Hollander breaks down just how good the Mariners’ pitching depth is

The Mariners have been anchored by their pitching the last two years, and GM Justin Hollander thinks that unit is as deep as it's been.
3 days ago
Seahawks Devin Bush...
Brent Stecker

Seahawks GM Schneider talks adding LB Bush, what it means for Wagner

The Seahawks have signed a linebacker in free agency, but it wasn't Bobby Wagner. Does that rule out a reunion? GM John Schneider answers.
4 days ago
Seahawks Al Woods...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks’ Schneider explains why Al Woods was cut, but could return

Seahawks GM John Schneider explained why the team parted ways with veteran NT Al Woods and why the big defender may return to Seattle.
4 days ago
Seattle Sports Julio Rodriguez, Cal Raleigh...
Brandon Gustafson

Dipoto: Mariners roster as deep, culture ‘most stable’ as it’s been

Not only does Jerry Dipoto think this the best top-to-bottom roster the Mariners he's had, he thinks the team's culture is fully established.
5 days ago
Mariners Julio Rodríguez...
Brent Stecker

Mariners’ Dipoto: Young star Julio Rodríguez in his ‘element’ in growing spotlight

"I guess what I will always go back to with Julio is he's grounded," Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto told Wyman and Bob.
6 days ago
2B Kolten Wong excited both to join Mariners, play with new shift rule