With Geoff in Japan (providing great reports on his blog), Bob Condotta on a plane heading home from Phoenix, and me sitting in the office in Seattle, it was left to columnist Jerry Brewer (still hanging out in Arizona) to post the Mariners’ 30-man traveling squad to Japan, announced today before they boarded the plane for Tokyo.
One thing I want to add is the names of the players still in major-league camp who were not brought to Japan. As expected, Adam Moore and Franklin Gutierrez, likely to begin the year on the disabled list, were kept back. So was infielder Luis Rodriguez, aced out of a utility job by the strong spring of Munenori Kawasaki. Catcher Jesus Sucre and outfielder Mike Wilson were unsurprising omissions. As Jerry noted, reliever Cesar Jimenez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Tacoma (reducing the Mariners’ 40-man roster to 37), and Kevin Millwood, the team’s fifth starter, didn’t make the trip because he won’t be needed to pitch, and can get in his work better in Peoria.
As I understand it, Millwood still must be included on the 28-man roster the Mariners must set by Wednesday afternoon, even though he’s not physically in Japan. That list is required to include all players the team plans to have on its roster for the resumption of the season. But Millwood doesn’t have to be on the 25-man roster for the two games in Japan, which opens the door, as I’ve speculated before, for another bat — Alex Liddi or Carlos Peguero — to be on the active roster in Japan (or both, if the Mariners also put No. 4 starter Blake Beavan on the three-man “taxi squad.” Those three are ineligible to play in Japan, but can be put on the 25-man roster when the season resumes in Oakland).
I was initially a little surprised by the final player left back, Vinnie Catricala, because he had an impressive spring. But as Big Ebu astutely pointed out, because Catricala is not on the 40-man roster, it didn’t make sense to put him on it so he could play two games in Japan, then have to use up an option to send him back to the minors once they returned. Since Liddi and Peguero are already on the 40-man, they were better choices for the Millwood spot.
But Catricala still could have been part of the 30-man travel squad, able to play in the two exhibition games against Japanese teams. In thinking it through, however, I’m sure the Mariners wanted to have a stockpile of pitchers on hand in case there is an injury in one of the exhibition games.
The Mariners still have some interesting decisions to make on the composition of the 25-man roster that will start the season, particularly in the bullpen. We won’t have to wait much longer.