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O'Malley fills slugger role with 1st MLB homer

'I was just hoping it would hit the wall,' says Mariners utilityman

OAKLAND -- On a night the Mariners were missing Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez to injuries, Shawn O'Malley stepped up with a slugging performance of his own in Seattle's 8-3 win over the A's, which is saying something for the 5-foot-11, 175-pound utilityman.

O'Malley, fresh up from Triple-A Tacoma as a September callup, hit his first Major League home run and also doubled and walked twice, reaching base all four times and scoring a pair of runs while batting ninth for the Mariners.

"This is a big yard," O'Malley said. "I haven't hit a ball out in BP all week. The fact [his first homer] came in a game, it couldn't have been better. I was just hoping it would hit the wall."

On the heels of his 3-for-4 debut with two RBIs in Wednesday's 8-3 win in Houston, it's been a pretty fair first week back in the big leagues for the native of Kennewick, Wash. He's 5-for-6 with three walks in his two games, a tidy little .883/.889/1.500 line.

"It's the same game, bigger stadium, brighter lights, more fans," O'Malley said. "But besides that, it's baseball. So I'm going to try to take that approach and just have fun. Whatever happens, happens. Just leave it out on the field and at the end of the day, I can hold my head up."

"He's been tremendous. If he can go 30-for-40, then I'll l be impressed," manager Lloyd McClendon said with a smile. "Let's hope so. He'll probably get an opportunity to play. I think there's a good chance he'll be in the lineup again tomorrow."

O'Malley had just 17 home runs in 2,845 at-bats over 813 games in his Minor League career, though five of those did come this year in 89 games with Triple-A Tacoma.

"I guess I'm getting older and getting that old-man's strength," O'Malley said. "They're few and far between, so I just enjoy them when they come."

He didn't enjoy this one for long though, sprinting so hard out of the box he was at second base before the umpires signaled the home run and he slowed to a slightly slower gallop.

O'Malley also doubled in the sixth, with the two extra-base hits his first in the Majors. As a September callup for the Angels last year, he went 3-for-16 (.188) with one RBI in 11 games. He then signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners and hit .297 in 310 at-bats before getting called up on Tuesday when rosters were allowed to expand for the final month.

After Saturday's showing, he found himself getting a beer and shaving cream shower from his teammates as a reward for his first career homer.

"It's fun. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys," he said while toweling off. "Everyone makes you feel really welcome, which in turns makes playing baseball even more fun than it already is."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.
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