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March 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Mariners playing a lot of baseball to prepare for the cutting season

The Mariners are in the middle of a stretch of playing four games in two days, including a B game today and a split-squad trip to Tucson tomorrow.
It means a lot of action for a lot of players vying for roster spots, with decisions likely to begin coming over the weekend as the Mariners prepare to leave for Japan next Thursday. The team will take 30 players to Japan and then cut to 25 for the two games against the A’s.
Right now, Seattle has 47 players in its Major League camp. Expect that number to reduce drastically by Monday or so, though manager Eric Wedge — who met with the media this afternoon — said exactly when is still uncertain.
“Well, we’re not sure (when cuts will come),” he said. “We’ll get through today and tomorrow, but obviously after that we’ve got to start to thin it out a little bit so we’ll see. Obviously that’s why I wanted to get these games in this week, see as many innings, see a many guys as we can pitch and play so we are working through everything right now. It’s a big decision week.”
Obviously, a lot of guys are sure to make the team. And just as obviously, these will be short-term decisions with the Mariners then returning to Peoria for a few more days of camp following the Japan trip before beginning the season in earnest on April 6.
Still, the decisions will help shape the nature of the 2012 Mariners.
“I’ve got somewhat of an idea of what we are looking at,” Wedge said. “But I still want to give everyone an opportunity in these next couple-three days to go out and pitch and then once we get down to those final three or four before we get on a plane we’ve got to extend our starters both from a pitching standpoint and a position player standpoint.”
The Japan trip also includes two exhibition games — one each against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants — and the team also needs players for those.
“I just want to make sure I have coverage,” Wedge said. “It will be a tricky roster for us because you may not take a starter, you may not take two starters depending on what we decide to do, and then you can fill in those slots with other players or other areas of your team. But the two exhibition games are what is a little bit tricky over there because the last thing you want to do is come into those two real games short. Want to make sure everyone is ready and available.”
With the exhibition games, pitching will be the most challenging area of the roster to manage.
“You might see a few more relievers the first game but we’ve got to make sure that if we are pitching guys the second exhibition game that they are still ready to go opening day,” Wedge said. “We are still working through all that right now depending on the type of pitcher they are and what they need to go done.”
Because of the trip and the exhibition games, the starters in the two real games in Japan — Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas — will have to get work on the side to stay in their rotation. Vargas is likely to throw a simulated game and Hernandez a couple of bullpen sessions.
As for a few other notes from the session with Wedge:
— He said Brendan Ryan’s injury that caused him to leave last night’s game isn’t serious. “It’s his quad. He feels a lot better today. I don’t think it’s anything serious. Give him today, probably give him tomorrow and then get him back out there.”
With such a sporadic schedule. … we want to make sure that we will still have some time to ramp him up a little bit when we get back but the number one thing is to keep him healthy and especially Brendan because he has had so many issues with his body.” Wedge said Ryan has had a good camp so far. “He’s looked great out there and he’s looked great at home plate, too, so I think he is ready, we just need to keep him healthy.”
— Asked for an update on the rehab of Franklin Gutierrez, he said: “Going along really well, doing really well. So is Adam Moore, doing really well. No timetable on it yet but everybody is really happy with their progress.”
— As noted earlier, a number of regulars played in the B game against the White Sox earlier today, part of the reason for the B game-like lineup you see for tonight’s main game. That included Chone Figgins at second and Munenori Kawasaki at third. “It was good. They both did a nice job. Both made some plays. Played the whole game.”
— Wedge said “Figgins got on base a couple of times with a walk and a base hit so it was we needed to get those guys out there. I don’t know how much that is going to happen (Figgins at second and Kawasaki at third) but wanted to get them there at least once and they looked pretty comfortable.”
Alex Liddi has played first a few times of late, but Wedge said he will be at third tomorrow and Saturday. He said part of the reason he has played first is “just to get him in the lineup. We are a little thin on first basemen here in camp and I want him to get comfortable over there and he has. That ball (he made an error on) was scorched yesterday but I mean he’s getting different types of plays over there that will help him get more comfortable over there. It’s only going to help him now you’ve got a guy can go first and third and (Vinnie) Catricala can go third and left field. It’s just a positive. We still look at him (Liddi) as a first baseman and Catricala as well.”
— Asked how Liddi has improved at the plate, Wedge said: “He’s shorter with his swing and he’s seeing the ball a little bit better. The ball really jumps off his bat as it does with Catricala. .. and I like the way he’s moving at third base, too.”
Erasmo Ramirez is getting another start tonight and Wedge said he could still be a factor either in the rotation or the bullpen. “Could go either way still with him and that’s a credit to him and what he has done prior to coming here and what we have seen here.”
— Finally, asked if Figgins’ ability to play the outfield will change how many outfielders the Mariners end up with on their roster, Wedge said: “It could but I don’t want it to. I still want to give Figgy the chance to play left field, too. Had him in center field quite a few times, actually, shortstop, third base, second base today and want to get him in left field, too, and I don’t see that transition being difficult for him but just to get him out there and see that angle and get a feel for it.”

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins

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