After dominating every level of the minor leagues, 23-year-old Kyle Seager was promoted earlier this week after only 12 impressive games at AAA Tacoma to play third base for the Mariners. He made his major-league debut last night against the Angels, but went hitless and struck out twice against Los Angeles ace Jered Weaver. The M's front office hopes Seager and his hot bat will improve the team's floundering offense, but Seattle Weekly has learned that Seager suffers from a type of congenital heart disease called ventricular septal defect. Mariners fans, prepare for your souls to be crushed.
Seager does indeed have ventricular septal defect (VSD, for short) but it is nothing to be seriously concerned about. He underwent surgery when he was just five weeks old to correct the problem, which consists of a hole in the wall that separates the right and left ventricles of the heart. It is one of the most common congenital heart defects.
Doctors told Seager's parents that their son would never play sports, but, as is often the case when doctors throw around absolutes, they were wrong. Seager went on to star at the University of North Carolina, alongside the other M's wunderkind, Dustin Ackley. He was a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection his junior year, and the Mariners called his name in the third round of the 2009 MLB draft.
This season for the Mariners AA club in Jackson, Seager had 25 doubles and a .312 average. He also melted more than a few hearts when he met with an 11-year-old boy who suffers from VSD. It was "Night of Heart" at the ballpark, a fund-raiser for the American Heart Association, and the kid, William Witherspoon, threw out the first pitch at the game.
Here's how the Jackson Sun described the ensuing encounter:
What Witherspoon went through was a six-and-a-half hour surgery to repair a hole in his heart when he was three years old.
Seager worked his way over to Witherspoon and introduced himself.
"(Seager) said he had VSD and had the same operation," Witherspoon said. "When Kyle came up to speak I was real surprised, because I didn't expect any one with heart problems like I had to be real big in sports.
"I couldn't believe I was talking to a professional sports player."
Seager told the paper he had multiple tests when he signed with the Mariners and has a "clean bill of health."
That means the only broken heart on the Mariners belongs to Chone Figgins--owner of a .183 batting average and a $36 million contract--who now finds himself the odd man out as Seager assumes the role of regular third baseman.