OAKLAND—There wasn’t much drama to it. Jason Bay was told on Friday and everyone else assumed it was a foregone conclusion even before that. But on Sunday, the Mariners made it official, finalizing their 25-man roster with Bay winning the last roster spot over Casper Wells.
With Bay making the trip to Salt Lake City for an exhibition with Colorado on Saturday and Wells staying back in Peoria, Ariz., playing in minor league games, the message seemed pretty clear.
“Ultimately, with what Jason Bay brings to the ballclub, we felt like that was the better fit for us right now and on into the season,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Bay, 34, hit .321 this spring (17-for-53) with three doubles, a triple, two homers and six RBI. He also drew eight walks to help boost his on-base percentage to .410.
For the first time in his career, Bay went into spring training without a roster spot. It was a new feeling for the Canadian.
“I actually kind of liked it,” he said. “It was different.”
But he also never really let the possibility of not making the team enter his mind.
“I never really thought otherwise,” Bay said. “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.”
Still, Bay knows he’s won the job as the fifth outfielder and is far removed from his days as a starter.
“I knew coming in I wasn’t going to play 162 games here,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to just contributing any way I can when I get to play. It’s a different part of my career.”
Wells is man without a team for the moment. His future with the Mariners is unclear. He struggled this spring, hitting .189 (10-for-53) with five of those hits coming in two games. He also struck out 19 times. But it wasn’t just his spring struggles that hurt him. Wells had chances in 2012 to define a bigger role for himself and simply couldn’t do it.
“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.”
The Mariners made a procedural roster move to be able to designate Wells for assignment. They selected minor leaguer D.J. Mitchell and added him to the 40-man roster first, and then optioned Mitchell to Triple-A Tacoma. To make room for Mitchell, the Mariners designated Wells for assignment, giving them 10 days to either trade, release or place him on waivers.
Had they not made that move with Mitchell, the Mariners, per spring training rules, would have had to simply release Wells because he is out of Triple-A options.
FELIX OPEN FOR BUSINESS
The honor and privilege that comes with starting on opening day hasn’t dulled Felix Hernandez’s excitement after all these years. Today Hernandez will be making the sixth opening-day start of his career and fifth in a row since 2009.
“It’s always special,” he said. “Not just for me, but for all the guys. It’s just very special.”
Hernandez has been special on opening day. He has a 3-0 record with a 1.59 ERA in his five starts.
While Hernandez will start for the Mariners, left-hander Brett Anderson will go for Oakland at 7:07 tonight. The game will be televised on Root Sports and broadcast locally on 710-AM.firstname.lastname@example.org