Mariners pitcher Joe Wieland sees more opportunity in Seattle

Feb 15, 2016, 8:00 AM | Updated: Feb 16, 2016, 8:56 am
With injuries behind him, former Dodgers pitcher Joe Wieland hopes to replicate his minor-league success with the Mariners. (AP)

Although the first three spots in the Mariners’ starting rotation are believed to be set, there’s still room on the back and in the bullpen for a surprise success story.

Could it be Joe Wieland?

A fourth-round pick of the Rangers in 2008, Wieland has pitched for parts of three seasons with the Padres and Dodgers, compiling a 1-5 career record and 5.85 ERA. The 26-year-old has seen most of his success as a starter in the minors, with a 45-27 record and 3.52 ERA, even throwing a no-hitter last season in Double-A.

He was acquired in a trade last month for minor-league infielder Erick Mejia and will be battling for a Mariners roster spot in spring training.

“I’m optimistic and I’m very confident with my abilities, but also I can look at a situation and be real with myself and I didn’t think LA was really a good fit for me,” he told “Danny, Dave and Moore” on 710 ESPN Seattle. “When I got traded, with the way that Seattle is building and going in the right direction, I thought, ‘Hey, this is going to be a great spot for me.'”

Related: Mariners’ Taijuan Walker hopes for improvement through breaking ball

Wieland said he had been injury-free until requiring
Tommy John surgery in 2012. He said the rehab was fine and the surgically repaired ligament was strong, but that he kept feeling something.

“Team doctors said to give it more time,” he recalled. “I unfortunately was disagreeing with them. After an entire year of rehab I finally got a second opinion, and sure enough I had a bone spur back there that wasn’t allowing me to really do anything. Just even pushing off somebody was extremely painful. Once we got that taken care of, I haven’t looked back since. Unfortunately it was 28 months, but since that point there’s been nothing holding me back.”

Other highlights from the conversation:

On being a fan of Russell Wilson: “I’m a Catholic and a Christian and seeing Russell Wilson, his faith, was something that was appealing to me. Him (also) being a baseball player, I never actually faced him, but I just admire what he does. He’s a true competitor and a true role model for people.”

On maturing: “To be honest with you, I don’t really think I fully understood what I had. I knew I was a major-league player. I was 22 years old and thought it was the greatest thing but I don’t think I fully understood what it meant to be a big-league player. To be honest, I think I took some of the things for granted.”

On earning his first major-league win post-surgery: “It meant so much more. My debut was great and all, but, man, I’ll be honest, after that long of a time off – basically at times thinking I’ll never play this game again – it was one of the best moments of my life.”

On what he’s heard about Seattle: “All the guys that I train with, everyone says that Seattle is the top city on their list. So my wife and I are extremely excited to go up there for the first time.”

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