All Jose Caballero wanted was a chance.
Now, he's pretty much taken over the starting job at second base for the Seattle Mariners, supplanting $10 million man Kolten Wong.
Caballero and the Mariners will continue their four-game series against the visiting Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night."In the offseason, I prepared myself. I wanted the opportunity," said Caballero, a 26-year-old rookie. "And I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to show myself in spring training. ... Now, I'm just trying to be out there trying to play every day to try to help the team win."
Caballero, called up from Triple-A Tacoma in mid-April, is batting .276 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 24 games for the offensively challenged Mariners. He also is 6-for-6 in stolen-base attempts. In contrast, Wong is batting .172 with no homers, eight RBIs and no steals.
Caballero hit his first major league home run and stole three bases in Seattle's 3-2 loss at Atlanta on Sunday, then slugged a three-run homer as the Mariners opened their series against the A's with an 11-2 victory Monday.
"From the day he showed up here, he was not in awe of anything," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He even made the comment: 'All the little things that I do get noticed here at the big-league level -- stealing bases, turning a double play, just getting on base and doing the little things.'"
Caballero got a night off Tuesday as Mariners rallied for a 3-2 victory, improving to 5-0 against the A's this season. J.P. Crawford hit a two-run homer and Ty France made it back-to-back blasts in the fifth inning, accounting for all of Seattle's scoring.
Left-hander Marco Gonzales put together a quality start after allowing two Oakland runs in the first inning. He lasted six innings.
"I think Marco settled in. His cutter is effective, his changeup down below keeps you off balance. He rode the four-seam route," A's manager Mark Kotsay said. "He made an adjustment after that first inning, and we weren't able to make the adjustment back. He's a veteran pitcher, and he's out there for a reason."
Oakland took its sixth straight defeat and fell to a 10-40, the worst 50-game record in the majors since the Boston Red Sox began 10-40 in 1932.
The A's are scheduled to send left-hander Ken Waldichuk (1-3, 6.85 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday to oppose Mariners right-hander Bryce Miller (2-1, 1.42).
Waldichuk has made one previous start against Seattle, and he allowed one run in five innings during a no-decision on Sept. 30, 2022.
Waldichuk is coming off a 5-1 loss at Houston on Friday, when he allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in five innings. He has struggled with his control, walking at least five batters in each of his past three starts and 28 in 46 innings this season, against 39 strikeouts. That has contributed to a 1.848 WHIP.
Miller made his major league debut at Oakland on May 2, opening with five perfect innings. He wound up allowing one run on two hits in six innings and became just the third pitcher in modern baseball history to not walk a batter and record 10 strikeouts in his initial start.
The Mariners might be without France on Wednesday, as he was hit on the outside of the left wrist by a pitch from reliever Trevor May in the eighth inning on Tuesday. Servais said France sustained a contusion and is likely to sit for a day or two.
--Field Level Media