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Thursday, March 13, 2008 - Page updated at 11:22 AM

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No surprises in first round of Mariners cuts

AP Sports Writer

John McLaren couldn't resist.

The Mariners manager spiced up his team's first round of cuts Thursday, which were devoid of surprises, by blurting out with a deadpan nod of his head: "We've still got Ichiro out there. He survived the first cut."

McLaren was continuing to poke fun at perennial All-Star and hit machine Ichiro Suzuki entering Thursday's game against San Francisco 0-for-21 this spring. Suzuki himself has been getting a chuckle out of the attention the slump has received.

Canadian teenager Phillippe Aumont, last June's 11th overall draft choice, was the most notable name among the 12 prospects sent to minor league camp. Aumont, the right-hander whose contract included a $1.9 million signing bonus, impressed the Mariners with a powerful, scoreless inning in a B game against San Diego earlier this month. He then allowed three runs while getting only one out in a game Sunday against Arizona.

Seattle now has 44 players, with 19 more needing to be cut before the season opener March 31.

Also sent out: Pitchers Brodie Downs, Stephen Kahn and Robert Rohrbaugh; catchers Jair Fernandez, Adam Moore and Brant Ust; outfielder Bronson Sardinha, and infielder Mark Kiger. All were reassigned to minor league camp.

Sardinha, a native of Hawaii who made his major league debut with the New York Yankees last season, left two boxes of candies and snacks from his native islands on a clubhouse table as a parting gift.

Three players were optioned to Triple-A Tacoma: Right-hander Joe Woerman and infielders Yung Chi Chen of Taiwan and Bryan LaHair.

"We need to start tightening things up here," McLaren said. "Most of these guys knew they wouldn't make the club. Next time, it is going to be tougher."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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