PEORIA, Ariz. — Seattle Mariners catcher Tuffy Gosewisch has played some of his best career baseball in Arizona.
For this season, the 33-year-old from Freeport, Illinois, would like to build roots in the Seattle Mariners organization.
Gosewisch spent the last four seasons in the Arizona organization. He appeared in 126 big-league games for the Diamondbacks. The Mariners acquired him on waivers in the off-season, and he’s ticketed to open the season in the minors.
“It’s been a very smooth transition,” Gosewisch said at Mariners camp. “It’ll be different because I won’t be living at home for the first time in five years, but I feel really good about the team.”
Gosewisch went to Horizon High School in Phoenix and played four years at Arizona State, where he helped the Sun Devils reach the 2005 College World Series.
All of his major-league time has come with the Diamondbacks. Gosewisch built some of his most fond baseball memories in the Valley.
He played four years for the the Sun Devils (2002-2005) while majoring in finance.
“ASU was one of the most fun times of my life,” he said. “We had a lot of good teams. I think that for most of us that were on those teams I think that’s probably where we grew the most as players. Some of the games we played together and some of the trials we had to overcome as a team I think helped everybody grow.”
Gosewisch’s career batting average at ASU was .320.
The 5-foot-11 Gosewisch probably doesn’t turn any heads at first glance in the Mariners clubhouse. Compared to some of the players, like the stocky Nelson Cruz, or the skyscraper-like pitcher Max Povse, who stands 6-foot-8, Tuffy could go unnoticed in a crowd full of average people.
Regardless of his physical structure, James Benjamin Gosewisch, who earned the nickname Tuffy at the age of six months from his father after having the tendency to break things, could be described as having a tough interior.
“He’s a good person,” first-year Mariners catcher Carlos Ruiz said. “He’s a guy that likes to work real hard, he wants to get better every time.”
Ruiz and Gosewisch spent several years together in the Phillies organization, where Ruiz was the front-line big-league catcher for several years. Gosewisch never made it to the majors with the Phillies.
Catcher Mike Zunino, the third overall pick in 2012, is the Mariners’ No. 1 catcher, and Ruiz has far more big-league experience than Gosewisch.
Mariners manager Scott Servais spent 11 years in the majors as a catcher.
“I like what Tuffy brings a lot,” Servais said. “He knows who he is as much as anything, as far as his ability to work with our pitchers. He does a really good job behind the plate. Nice guy to have, really smart player as well.”
Gosewisch will most likely start the season with the Mariners minor league Triple-A affiliate in the Tacoma Rainiers, but Servais believes in Gosewisch’s abilities.
“If there is an issue with Zunino or Chooch (Ruiz) throughout the season, tons of confidence in firing him in there, ” Servais said.
“I’m anxious to see him play in the games because players with his skill set and kind of how he goes about it, he’s a game player. He’s not a practice player.”
But Gosewisch still practices hard.
“I’m coming to the park every day, I’m trying to get better,” he said. “I’m trying to improve my game, I’m trying improve the pitching staff and the team overall. I think that any good player is going to try and make the team better.”
Gosewisch hit .199 during his four years with the Diamondbacks. But a few stats suggest Gosewisch’s value defensively. In his four seasons with the Diamondbacks, he had one error per season and a total of six passed balls.
“He’s not going to ‘wow’ you with any of his tools,” Servais said. “But you look at the sum of all the parts, and it’s a pretty solid guy behind the plate.”