PEORIA, Ariz. – There’s still an abstract feel to the Seattle Mariners’ roster after a flurry of personnel moves Monday.
The team goes into its final Arizona spring training game today with 26 healthy players to choose for the 25 spots on the opening-day roster. Manager Eric Wedge said he’ll have his 25 by the end of the day.
“Unless something significant comes our way that we don’t expect, we plan to have our team hopefully by tomorrow afternoon,” Wedge said after the Mariners’ 7-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Wedge guarded his words because there’s always the chance of a late signing, trade or surprise.
Monday’s moves were intriguing, if not a surprise on one front.
The Mariners released infielder Josh Wilson, who had seemed secure because of his versatility and his place on the 40-man major league roster. The Mariners signed Wilson to a one-year, $750,000 contract in December, a deal that avoided arbitration with him.
It leaves the Mariners with two backup infielders – left-handed-hitting Adam Kennedy, a non-roster invitee who was added to the 40-man roster Monday, and Luis Rodriguez, a switch-hitter who still must be added to the 40-man because he’s also a non-roster invitee.
“Josh has done a good job here the last couple of years and he’s a good ballplayer,” Wedge said. “But ultimately we felt like there was a better fit, initially anyway, with some of the other guys.”
The Mariners also optioned left-handed pitcher Luke French to Triple-A Tacoma, reassigned catchers Josh Bard and Chris Gimenez to the minor league camp and added relievers Chris Ray and Jamey Wright to the 40-man roster.
Where does it leave the Mariners? With more work to do.
Not including injured Shawn Kelley, David Aardsma and Nate Robertson, 13 pitchers remain in the big-league camp. That’s one more than the Mariners are expected to begin the season with, which would put left-hander Cesar Jimenez or right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen on the bubble.
Jimenez has struggled throughout spring training – he has a 9.82 ERA and hasn’t pitched a 1-2-3 inning all spring. However, he is out of minor league options and the Mariners risk losing him on waivers if they try to send him down.
Wilhelmsen has been one of the pleasant surprises of spring training, with a 2.70 ERA in 10 exhibition innings. However, he hasn’t pitched above the Class A level.
There’s also the matter of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has been ill with stomach problems and hasn’t played since March 19. Wedge said the team still hasn’t gotten all results from the latest round of medical tests on Gutierrez.
It’s unlikely that Gutierrez will be ready for the opener. Michael Saunders and non-roster outfielder Ryan Langerhans have gotten most of the playing time in center field for more than a week.
“We’re still working through it,” Wedge said. “We’ve been playing Saunders and Langerhans out there quite a bit in preparing for ‘Guti’ not being ready.”