Five Mariners take on Tropicana's catwalk

Five Mariners take on Tropicana's catwalk

Five Mariners take on Tropicana's catwalk
ST. PETERSBURG -- High above Tropicana Field are catwalks, best known for interfering with the occasional fly ball at Tampa Bay's domed stadium. But leave it to five Mariners players to take on the challenge of the catwalk's heights.

Catwalks? A ladder? A crazy view? Why not? So relievers Tom Wilhelmsen, Lucas Luetge, Charlie Furbush and Steve Delabar, and outfielder Casper Wells talked the Rays' grounds crew into letting them make the climb and take in the field from 220 feet above the artificial turf about four hours before Tuesday's game with the Rays.

Tampa Bay writers said they don't recall seeing other visiting players take that challenge before, though Rays players have gotten the tour and former Tampa Bay catcher John Jaso is the one who told his new Mariners teammates they needed to take the challenge.

"We think outside the box in Seattle," Wilhelmsen said.

The players took the elevator six floors up to the upper deck at Tropicana, walked the 30 rows of seats to the top of the stadium, climbed a 12-foot ladder and then another 120 feet of steps up a long catwalk to the center of the field.

Wilhelmsen, Delabar and Furbush then did the full 360-degree turn around the inner ring.

"Some of the steps seemed a little loose, so that was difficult," said Luetge. "I was holding onto the sides pretty tight. It was pretty hot up there. I started sweating. But that might have been nerves. I'm a little scared of heights, so I was a little nervous. But I couldn't pass it up. I faced a fear."

Wells, the only position player in the group, said he began having second thoughts about halfway out the catwalk.

"I just thought I'll keep my eye on the prize and just look forward," Wells said. "Once you get more toward the top, you can't stop. Those guys were going around that circle and I was like, 'Ahhh, I'm good right here.' All you've got is that little grate between you and the ground.

"My legs were a little Jell-O-y. I felt like I was in my first big league at-bat again."

Furbush said the players signed their names on one of the metal beams, where a lot of others had already left their mark.

"We didn't have a Sharpie, so we signed our names in the dust on one of the bars, just to say we did it," Furbush said. "It's not quite the same as signing the inside of the wall at Fenway Park, but it was pretty cool."

Cool only goes so far, however, when you're staring down 420 feet at the field straight below. Which is why Wells drew a line at the center circle and just waited to go back down.

"I've got to play tonight," he grinned. "I've got four at-bats. Those guys are relief pitchers. You can replace them."