PEORIA, Ariz. - They announced their starting rotation - it wasn't a surprise - and then came from behind in the ninth inning to win their final home game of the spring, but the Seattle Mariners aren't quite done here.
With another flurry of moves, the team got down to 26 healthy players in camp, one more than they’ll have opening night in Oakland on Friday.
Infielder Josh Wilson was released, pitcher Luke French was sent to Tacoma and catchers Josh Bard and Chris Gimenez were reassigned to minor league camp.
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Who’s left? Unexpectedly, infielder Luis Rodriguez – a non-roster invitee who can play shortstop. He and Adam Kennedy appear to have made the team, and if Franklin Gutierrez starts on the disabled list, Michael Saunders is in.
The only remaining decision, barring a move by general manager Jack Zduriencik to pick up a player, is which pitcher to keep in the bullpen – left-hander Cesar Jimenez or right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen.
Rookie Wilhelmsen has out-pitched Jimenez, but the lefty – who hasn’t worked a 1-2-3 inning all spring – is out of options.
As for that rotation, it’s Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard and rookie Michael Pineda.
“Five guys who can do what we’ll ask of them, give us the chance to win the game,” manager Eric Wedge called them.
And the big rookie right-hander, Pineda?
“We came in with an open mind and he pitched well all spring and kept getting better,” Wedge said. “Everything that came up, he handled. That’s good, because there are more things that will come up.”
So who are the 26 healthy players still with the Mariners?
Starting pitchers (5): Hernandez, Vargas, Fister, Bedard and Pineda.
Relievers (8): Brandon League, Chris Ray, Josh Lueke, David Pauley, Jamey Wright, Tom Wilhelmsen, Aaron Laffey and Cesar Jimenez.
Catchers (2): Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore.
Infielders (6): Justin Smoak, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan, Adam Kennedy and Luis Rodriguez.
Outfielders (4): Milton Bradley, Michael Saunders, Ichiro Suzuki and Ryan Langerhans.
Designated hitter (1): Jack Cust.
By this afternoon, one of those relievers will be elsewhere.
What are the Rainiers getting in 28-year-old Gimenez?
Wedge, who had him in Cleveland, watched him in camp this spring. His scouting report:
“He’s capable of playing left, right, first, third and catch. He still needs to work on his bat. I’ve seen his improvement this spring, I’ve seen signs I hadn’t seen before that lead me to believe if he can keep moving that direction, he has a chance to have a big league bat.
“If he gets to that point, he’s going to play in the big leagues a long time because of that versatility.”
Over 590 minor league games, Gimenez is a .268 hitter. In 73 games with the Indians, his average was .160.
Trailing Colorado, 6-5, in the bottom of the ninth Monday, the Mariners got hits from Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders that – combined with a Rockies error – tied the score.
Then, with no one out, minor league catcher Steven Baron singled home the run that won it, 7-6.
Baron finished camp batting .538.
Chone Figgins went 3-for-3, extending his spring hitting streak to 12 games and pushing his Cactus League average to .396. Milton Bradley had two hits and two RBI and now has a club-leading 13 RBI this spring, along with a .333 average. Jason Vargas allowed five runs, three in the fifth inning, on 11 hits and a walk. Pitching in the roles they will likely have in the regular season, Chris Ray worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and League a 1-2-3 ninth. Both struck out two of the three men they faced. Still no word on Gutierrez and his stomach ailment. He has now missed nine consecutive games, though for the first time in awhile, he took part in morning workouts with the team. He has played only nine games this spring. Mariners are now 15-12-1 this spring with two exhibition games to play.
In their final Arizona game of the spring, Mariners play at the Rockies at 1:05 p.m. today, a game that will be televised on FSN. Probable starting pitchers: Doug Fister vs. Jhoulys Chacin.