We’re wrapping up the Arizona portion of spring training today at noon with the Mariners visiting the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Ariz. But the real story isn’t the game today, it’s the team’s roster and the decision to delay the official awarding of the final spot.
So, here’s what’s really going on.
The Mariners are going to give Jason Bay a spot on the team. That’s why Bay is going to Salt Lake City with the club while Casper Wells is staying behind and playing in minor league games. The Mariners can keep Wells on the roster until Sunday at the latest without having to make a move one way or the other and that’s what they’re doing.
But they’re doing it to protect themselves.
The Mariners want to make sure nobody gets hurt on Saturday in Salt Lake City first before parting ways with Wells.
And while the team and manager Eric Wedge won’t single out any particular player, it’s clear the one guy they have their eye on is center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. If you notice, Gutierrez is not in the lineup today. Wedge has “slow played” him back into the lineup after he missed a week with leg tightness and apparently, that tightness has lingered.
“I’m going to continue to make sure we take care of him, especially early on in the season,” Wedge said. “He’s going to get days off We’re a better ballclub when he’s in there. But if he’s not an option for us, it doesn’t do us any good.”
And so, that’s why one day Gutierrez is in, the next day, he’s out.
The Mariners are easing him into the season and as of right now are still not 100 percent convinced he’s going to make it. Now, the odds are that he will. But just in case, they are hanging on to Wells as long as they can without making a call.
“Quite frankly, what we’re trying to do is just give ourselves a little more time,” Wedge said. “When you talk about spring training and particularly, the end of spring training, you want toprotect yourself against so many different things and one of them is injury, quite frankly. So, if you don’t have to make a decision early, you try not to do it.”
It’s not like it’s going to be Bay or Wells at this stage. Bay is on the team. But if somebody can’t make it for Opening Day and has to go on the DL, then they would keep Wells to open the season and worry about what to do with him later.
“We’ve got to play this out just to make sure we do what’s best for the ballclub, make sure we manage the roster accordingly and go from there,” Wedge said. “Obviously, we’ll play the ballgame today, that’s my first priority. To get through that OK. And then we’ll get to Salt Lake tomorrow, play again on Saturday and try to manage that to where we come out of that OK, too.”
Both players were apprised of the situation by Wedge today. Wells was originally scheduled to play in today’s Cactus League game, but is now taking indoor BP and will play in a minor league game instead.
As far as I know, the Mariners have yet to put Wells on waivers. They don’t have to do that until Sunday, so they can drag this out until the very end if they want to and keep him around just in case one of their anticipated 25 guys isn’t ready to go.
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