Longtime Giant Mac Williamson Embracing Fresh Start With Mariners

OAKLAND -- The final at-bat of Mac Williamson's eight years with the Giants came late on a Friday night with the team trailing the Diamondbacks by 16 runs. Williamson struck out, and as he made the slow walk back to the dugout, he knew what was coming.

"Well," Williamson told himself. "He gone."

A few minutes later, Williamson was designated for assignment a second time. Three weeks later, he's back in the Bay Area, and back in the big leagues, this time as a Seattle Mariner, a team in a similar position offering a similar opportunity. The Mariners are looking for players who can be part of their future, and Williamson has seen pretty regular playing time since getting called up June 5. 

It has been a whirlwind month in an emotional season, and as Williamson sat in the Coliseum dugout on Friday, he smiled as he looked down at the Mariners colors on his shirt. 

"I catch myself referring to the Giants as 'we' still. 'We' do this or 'we' did that," he said. "I think there will always be a part of me that's a Giant. A lot of people get to play for multiple organizations, that's part of the game, and I'm excited about the new opportunity."

Few young Giants in recent years have been talked about more than Williamson, who possessed the talent to end a decades-long drought of homegrown outfield production but never fully broke through. When he got his first real chance last year, Williamson was derailed by a poorly located bullpen mound. This year he again got an opportunity, but it was short-lived. When Williamson hit .118 through 15 games the Giants let him go for a second time in three months. 

"It wasn't a surprise to me, honestly," Williamson said. "I would have liked to have had a longer opportunity to play, but it wasn't like I was hitting .200 and just struggling a little bit. I had two really bad games and was hitting barely over .100. I think that while they are trying to find pieces for the future, they're also trying to do Boch justice by giving him the best possible team that they can right now to win as many games as they can to finish up a tremendous career. 

"He deserves that and has earned that respect and I wasn't helping the team."

While the move wasn't a surprise, it still carried some punch. When Williamson was DFA'd at the end of the spring, he knew the Giants had done it late enough that he likely would get through waivers and stay with the organization. The second time, he knew he would elect to become a free agent. Williamson and his agent sorted through several offers after the cord was cut, ultimately choosing the opportunity with the Mariners. 

He arrived in Tacoma around 2:30 a.m. on a Tuesday night and the next day went to the Triple-A park to take batting practice. After just one round in the cage, Williamson was pulled aside and told the big league club needed him because of injuries in their outfield and the Jay Bruce trade. A few hours later, Williamson was sitting in the dugout in Seattle. When the Mariners started pouring it on in a blowout, he was asked if he wanted to pinch-hit. 

"I didn't have anything to lose," he said. "After a long at-bat I ended up hitting a home run. It was kind of surreal."

Williamson's time with the Mariners has in a way mirrored his season with the Giants. He homered in his first game back from Triple-A last month but then struggled to get going. The first homer with the Mariners was a nice moment, but Williamson has just three hits in 22 at-bats with his second team. Still, he said has felt better at the plate of late, and the Mariners have continued to give him plenty of at-bats. He's starting in left field against the A's on Friday night. 

Perhaps the breakthrough will come in Seattle, or the next stop or the one after that. Perhaps Williamson, 28, will never get there. He never quite did with the Giants. The two sides are headed in different directions, and while Williamson is sad about the way it all ended, he knows it was time. He has plenty of friends still with the Giants -- he smiled as he talked of watching Tyler Beede's outing on Tuesday night -- but has found a comfort zone in Seattle, home to former Giants like Cory Gearrin and Hunter Strickland, as well as other players Williamson has known throughout his career. 

"That was an emotional time for me, but once it was over, I was kind of able to look at the picture a little clearer and realize there would be another opportunity with a new organization and it might work out for everybody," he said of getting DFA'd a second time. "Multiple people told me that a fresh start would do me good. I talked to a bunch of people who have been in similar situations where they struggled with one organization, the organization that they came up with.

"I think there's inherent pressure to perform for the organization that gave you a chance and molded you to who you are. You want to perform for them, you want to pay them back. I definitely wanted to do that (with the Giants). Now that I'm here in Seattle I think they've given me an opportunity to grow and continue to grow and flourish. Hopefully I can do that."

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