PHOENIX – When they left Arizona, the Seattle Mariners flew to Albuquerque, N.M., with a plane full of pitchers, players and minor leaguers – but if there are no injuries in the next three days, their roster is set.
The team will try to get through the first weeks of the season with an 11-man pitching staff and 14 position players – including one nonroster invitee, veteran Mike Sweeney.
The position players who will be on that roster:
Catchers: Rob Johnson, Adam Moore.
Infielders: Jack Wilson, Jose Lopez, Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman, Matt Tuiasosopo.
Outfielders: Eric Byrnes, Ryan Langerhans, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro Suzuki.
DH: Ken Griffey Jr. and Sweeney.
Langerhans makes the team in part because he’s out of options and the team likes his ability to play anywhere in the outfield and bat left-handed. This is the same Langerhans, remember, who hit a pair of walk-off home runs for Seattle last year.
One early problem facing manager Don Wakamatsu the first week of the season is facing three left-handed starting pitchers – which means trying to get Bradley, Brynes and Sweeney at-bats in what amounts to two spots – left field and designated hitter.
One will have to sit each of those three games. But that’s why managers get gray.
Left-hander Garrett Olson was sent to minor league camp, victimized by an injury to his left ring finger that cost him much of the spring.
That left the team with 12 pitchers in camp, including nonroster invitee Jesus Colome, who is the odd-man out despite pitching superbly in relief. When the Mariners name their 11-man staff this weekend, Colome won’t be on it despite posting a 1.64 spring earned-run average.
Who will? Only one real surprise, Rule 5 rookie right-hander Kanekoa Texeira, whose spring training was so dominant (a 0.64 ERA in his first 14 innings) he had to be put into the bullpen mix.
Behind a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Doug Fister and Jason Vargas, the Mariners will go with this bullpen:
David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, Brandon League, Sean White, Shawn Kelley and Texeira.
Garko picked up by Texas
Ryan Garko was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers, who will pay his $550,000 salary.
The right-handed hitting first baseman, signed just before spring training by the Mariners, was once considered half of a Garko-Kotchman platoon, but that disappeared as camp played out.
Cliff Lee played catch again Thursday, and will do so again today and Saturday before rejoining the team in San Francisco before the final exhibition game there Sunday. That’s a major improvement over not throwing at all for more than a week, but the timetable for his return remains uncertain. ... Erik Bedard threw off the bullpen mound, all fastballs, and the results have the team optimistic the lefty will be pitching in May. ... When it comes to patience, Figgins is showing Seattle hitters how much it can help. In his first 18 spring games, he walked 15 times. ...The Peoria Sports Complex selected Texeira as their annual Rookie of the Year, beating out all competition from the San Diego Padres. Other Mariners rookies to win the award in springs past: Matt Tuiasosopo (’09) and Jeremy Reed (’05). … Ian Snell allowed six runs and 10 hits in five innings Thursday in the Mariners’ 9-4 Cactus League loss to the Chicago White Sox, who used a squad of minor leaguers. Snell is expected to be the Mariners’ No. 2 starter until Lee is able to take his place in the rotation. Seattle used only a handful of its major leaguers in the game.
The Mariners play the Colorado Rockies in the first of two games in Albuquerque, N.M. Today’s game is at 4:05 p.m, and will be broadcast on FSN and 710-AM. Probable starting pitchers are Rowland-Smith vs. Aaron Cook.