Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Dae-Ho Lee.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so of course it’s Shawn O’Malley up today in our continuing Zoning In series.
O’Malley, who was signed as a minor league free agent last offseason and then called up by the Mariners when the rosters expanded on September 1st of last year, was a fan favorite down the stretch—for good reason.
On defense, he played all over the diamond, appearing in all three outfield positions and third base. And on offense, he played better than anyone could have possibly expected. He reached base 19 times in his first 11 games as a Mariner, and finished the season with a .418 OBP.
There was more than that to his appeal, as if that wasn’t enough.
O’Malley actually grew up in Kennewick, WA. As a kid, he was a Mariners fan, so it was something special when he donned the uniform and played his first game for Seattle late last summer.
“It’s awesome, how things change when you get older,” said O’Malley after that first game. “It’s like [I told Edgar Martinez], ‘I used to look up to you when I was a little kid. Now I’m high-fiving you and you’re telling me how to hit.’ It was awesome.”
It was awesome for him, and his family, too, as they were in Houston for his debut with the Mariners, as he went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI.
“They love it,” he said. “They grew up huge Mariners fans. The fact they got to see me in a Mariners uniform starting a game was probably surreal to them. I’m glad I could make it somewhat special.”
Now, with eyes on 2016, he’s competing for a utility spot. He came up as a shortstop, but now it’s about trying to get on the field wherever he can.
“I’m a super-utility guy. I’m a third baseman when you need me, I’m an outfielder when you need me, I’m a second baseman whenever you want,” he recently told Greg Johns of Mariners.com. “You just have to be ready, when your name gets called, to go at any of those spots.
Off the Field
O’Malley was a big two-sport star at Southridge High School in Kennewick, excelling in both baseball and football. In 2005, he was named to the Seattle Times‘ 4A All-State football team and was the All-Big Nine MVP as a wide receiver.
Being a former football player himself, it only makes sense he’s a close follower of the game now. In speaking with Shannon Drayer last year, he said he’s a “Big Seahawks fan. I watch them every Sunday and I’ve been watching them since I was little.”
More in the Zoning In on the 2016 Mariners Series:
- Norichika Aoki
- Luis Sardinas
- Chris Taylor
- Boog Powell
- Nathan Karns
- Vidal Nuno
- Justin De Fratus
- Mike Zunino
- Steve Clevenger
- Adam Lind
- Wade Miley
- Charlie Furbush
- On deck: Dae-Ho Lee
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