Drafted by the Tigers in 1993 (when teammate Matt Antonelli was eight years old), he’s been playing professional ball – both in the minors and majors – for 15 years and brings a wealth of experience to the game. Wooten talks openly about the role veterans should play on an emerging team.
What’s it like being a veteran on a young team?
Shawn Wooten: You see so many things as the years go by. You know how an older guy’s going to be, and you know how a younger guy’s going to be, and they’re all different, and it just depends on the personality and how they mesh and everything else. Sometimes, you get a lot of questions and sometimes you don’t and sometimes you tolerate things an older guy might do. Sometimes you see some things and are like, ‘How does that even happen?’ But all in all it’s fun. It makes me feel like I’m young again.
Do you readily offer advice or tips or do you wait for guys to approach you?
Shawn Wooten: There are guys that I know that I can approach and maybe give some advice and sometimes there might be something where a kid could learn from it. Not that it ever costs them playing time or anything like that, but it might just be something that you might not want to do. Other than that, I wait back and let kids figure themselves out. If they need advice then they come to me.
Do you think veterans have a responsibility to help out the younger players?
Shawn Wooten: I definitely think so because I think this game is about learning. When you’re real young and you get straight up to where the veterans are and you get thrown right in the fire with 12-year veteran big leaguers, there are some things, not just in the clubhouse, but on the field that you just shouldn’t do or you wouldn’t do. So, it’s important for those kids to understand that and learn that, but, at the same time, they’re going to make mistakes and there’s going to be stuff that happens. When you’re young, you’re going to make mistakes, that’s all it comes down to. And even older guys – I’m still making tons of mistakes. [Laughs] I’m still learning everyday, that’s what’s so beautiful about this game.
On Friday night, after the Beavers took the lead in the eighth against Colorado, Wooten was put in for defensive purposes and didn’t disappoint. The game ended on a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out when he gunned down the Sky Sox’ second baseman Eduarto Cornejo.