By Jim Street
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Word was getting around camp earlier this spring that the Mariners were shopping around for a shortstop to back up starter Carlos Guillen. Willie Bloomquist heard the rumor and sensed that adding a veteran middle infielder could be his own ticket back to the minor leagues. And that would not be a good thing for him, even if it means he would play more at Triple-A Tacoma than he would as the 25th player in Seattle.
So he has been taking a crash course in Shortstop 101 and done so well that Mariners infield coach Dave Myers believes Bloomquist can handle the job at baseball's highest level.
"For the longest time, I thought that between short, second and third base, short was his third-best position," Myers said Friday. "But he has proved to me that he is equally good at all three. He has worked hard and we're seeing the results of that."
Bloomquist, 25, is a younger version of Mark McLemore, 38. Both play three infield positions and left field. Versatility is the name of their game and it appears both will be on the Mariners' 25-man Opening Night roster.
"They are going to do what they are going to do," Bloomquist said. "If you can show them that you can play that position so they don't have to go out and find someone, that's another feather in your cap. Hopefully I have at least shown them if they need someone to play there a day or two, I can step in and do the job. I have played as hard as I can and as well as I can."