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March 31, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Jason Bay and Eric Wedge react to final roster decision


That’s the press-box view this afternoon from the Oakland Coliseum, where it has just started to rain. But the forecast is good for the upcoming four-game series. The Mariners didn’t have a full-scale workout, but most of the players played catch, ran around, took some grounders and hit a little in the cage before advance meetings to go over the Oakland A’s. Tomorrow night, it all starts for real with what will be a sold out crowd (not counting the tarped-off upper deck, of course).

The news today, of course, is that Jason Bay has officially made the team, a decision that required some procedural maneuvering by the Mariners. Pitcher D.J. Mitchell was selected to the major-league roster, which put the 40-man roster at 41 – a necessary precursor to their ultimate goal of designating Casper Wells for assignment. Mitchell was promptly optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners now have 10 days to trade, release or outright Wells to the minor leagues.

One twist is that Wells does not have enough service time to opt to become a free agent if he clears waivers (nor has be been designated previously, which would have given him the power to do that, also). Thus, he would have to accept a Tacoma assignment if that’s the outcome.

Just to complete the bookkeeping, the Mariners also reassigned four players to minor-league camp to set their roster at 25: RHP Danny Farquhar, catcher Jesus Sucre, infielder Brad Miller and outfielder Endy Chavez.

Bay said he never saw it as a competition with Wells. He was always focused on finding his way back to his old form after two lost seasons in New York with the Mets.

“All along, I think a lot of people pitted it as Casper and I or whoever it was,’’ he said. “But I was more worried about myself. I felt if I took care of my business, which I feel like I did, then I really couldn’t have any regrets. It’s nice.

“It was kind of the first time I really had to make the team, even from 10 years ago and my first couple years. I actually kind of liked it. It was different. I never really thought otherwise. I felt comfortable with myself and what I’ve done. From the day I signed here, I was on the team in my own mind. I had to still go out and do that and I’m glad I did.”

Bay hit .321 with two homers this spring. Here’s Manager Eric Wedge’s assessment:

“Jason had a good camp for us. He’s a solid veteran player. He’s a guy who came in in great shape. Moved around great all spring. Short, quick swing. I liked the way he moved around the bases. I liked the way he moved in the outfield, and I like what he brings to the clubhouse. Just a lot of positives there.

“We wanted to give it as much time as we could, and we did. We feel good about that process. Casper is a good ballplayer, too, but ultimately it came down to a tough decision, and we feel we made the best decision for the club right now and moving forward. We’ll have to see how our situation plays out.”

Wells drove in 14 runs in spring, tied for second-most on the team, but nine of those came in two back-to-back games. He hit .189 overall and struck out 19 times in 53 at-bats. But Wedge said the decision was not based on spring alone.

“When you talk about spring training, it’s a small window,’’ Wedge said. “Ultimately, you take into consideration everything leading up to that, and as you move forward through this year as well. As we break camp, with 162 games ahead of you, you feel all your guys you break camp with at some point in time are probably going to play a little more than maybe they’re slotted for early on in the year. That’s something we took into consideration, too.”

Wells on the roster would have given Wedge more defensive options, but the manager believes the outfield defense will be satisfactory.

“I think we can do some things late in the ballgame if we need to. We’ve got guys that have either played out there a long time, guys that have a pretty good feel for what they need to do and how to play. You’re not going to have a perfect situation, but we feel we can cover what we need to cover.”

Here’s Wedge on how he’s going to divvy up time between the two outfield reserves, Bay and Raul Ibanez.

“We’re going to have a meeting today as we get into our advance meetings,’’ he said. “I think we’re in a different situation this year where we feel everybody, from a position player standpoint, can play and should play. That will be up to me and the coaching staff to work to get everybody in there.

“It will be particularly challenging early on, just because you have to force it a little bit. What you don’t want to have happen is these guys play all spring and then come out and not play for a week or two. We want to make sure we get everyone in there. Once you get into the season, and into your routine, it kind of shows itself to you, because guys need days off, guys get dinged up. But we want to keep everyone sharp, because we feel they can all help us.”

Bay, meanwhile, is delighted to have his career rejuvenated in Seattle – where his family now makes its home.

“My wife busted my chops,’’ he said with a laugh. “I’ve lived in Seattle 12 years and never seen a summer, so I’m very excited about that.

“The fresh start is the big thing,’’ he added. “No matter what I was going to do in New York, it wasn’t going to be enough to make up for all the things I didn’t do. And I understood that. That’s why we came to the realization that a clean break was probably best for everybody. I came here knowing and being comfortable I wasn’t competing for a starting job. I knew that and embraced it. I consider myself a realist. I look around and see what’s going on and know where I stand and what my job is going to be. And I’m excited about it.”



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