Want to stump Stevie Wilkerson?
It sounds like a bad game show, but nonetheless, here’s how you do it:
Challenge him to name a bigger oddity in his season with the Orioles - pitching in four games and earning a save or making more starts in center field, a position he hadn’t played, than anyone else on the team.
“I think the Vegas odds on either one of those at the beginning of the year would have been astronomically high,” he said last week on the “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7.
“I guess I’ll go with the pitching. I don’t know.”
Is this his final answer?
Wilkerson began to examine his bizarre season, writing down various parts as if putting pen to paper would make them more believable, after settling back into his Illinois home.
“I got away from it for a couple of weeks and then sat down and reflected and evaluated it,” he said.
“When you go through the things that happened this year it was pretty unbelievable, pretty crazy. Highs and lows all over the place. But what a year it was. Some of the opportunities I had were unbelievable and some of the lows were tough, too. Being DFA’d after spring training and then working my way back on the roster and being able to stay up with the guys for a lot of the year, it was an awesome year. But definitely a roller coaster.”
The ride carried him to Cooperstown, N.Y., where the Hall of Fame displays a ball and cap from the night in Anaheim when he became the first position player to record a save.
Dr. Poo Poo has been immortalized.
“One of my buddies contacted me the other day,” Wilkerson said. “He was up at the Hall of Fame museum and he texted me a little picture of the thing they had for me with my hat and plaque and stuff. He said he wasn’t sure if I had seen it yet, so it’s pretty cool stuff there.”
Wilkerson played all left, center and right field and second base this summer and has experience at shortstop, third base and first base, making him the ultimate super-utility guy. The Orioles valued his versatility but surely would prefer to keep an infielder off the mound and limit his appearances in the outfield.
Except rebuilding teams don’t live in a perfect world.
“Who knows what position I’ll be playing next year,” he said. “Outfield, infield, pitcher, whatever. But I think I handled it all right.”
Who knows if Wilkerson is on the team next season?
He’s not assuming that his spot on the 40-man roster is safe. Not after losing it in the past. And slashing .225/.286/.383 in 117 games is more likely to keep him on edge.
“I don’t take it for granted being on the roster each and every day, but in this business you never know,” he said. “You could be traded, released, anything literally any day.
“I think coming into spring my approach will just be to be ready for anything and to put my best foot forward every day. I’d like to think I’m in a decent spot to be able to help this team throughout the course of the season. I have some good relationships with the staff and everybody, but I think right when you feel secure and get complacent is where you get bit in the behind. So that’s kind of where I’m at with it.”