In the news:
Mariners send Shawn Kelley to Tacoma, must cut two more
Kelley, a right-handed reliever, was optioned to Class AAA, leaving the team two players over the 25-man limit as they approach Friday's "re-opener" in Oakland.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Sitting at his locker Tuesday morning, Alex Liddi pondered his latest stint on the bubble and smiled.
"It's been kind of an exciting spring training," he said. "This is the second time already thinking about if I'm going to be on the team or not."
The Mariners had one cutdown in Japan to set the roster for opening day, and now they face a second cutdown to reset the roster for re-opening day.
After a weeklong respite in Arizona to recover from the Japan trip, the Mariners play for real again on Friday in Oakland against the A's. But they are mandated by MLB to submit their 25-man roster by 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The Mariners made one move Tuesday, optioning right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley to Class AAA Tacoma. Kelley gave up a critical two-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes in the seventh inning of their second game in Japan.
"There's just some things he needs to work on," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "Shawn has a good arm and there are some things he did real well, but we felt the best thing right now is to go to Triple A and let him work on some things he's been instructed to do. The door is wide open to come back if he produces."
Kelley's departure reduced the Mariners' roster to 27, leaving them with two more spots to clear. They are expected to announce the final cuts late Wednesday morning, just before they leave for Scottsdale to play Colorado in their final Cactus League game. After the game, the team will fly to Oakland, where they will hold a workout Thursday.
One of the final cuts figures to be Liddi or outfielder Carlos Peguero, who strengthened his case Tuesday in the Mariners' wild, 9-8 loss to the Rockies at Salt River Fields. Peguero had four of the Mariners' 16 hits, including his team-leading fifth homer of the spring, to raise his average to .294.
Liddi is hitting .370 in the spring and has shown improved defense at both first and third base, despite two errors on one play Wednesday. He made the 25-man roster in Japan. But with Mike Carp on the disabled list, Peguero seems a better fit. Manager Eric Wedge said he's been impressed with Peguero's development at the plate.
"He's had a real nice spring," Wedge said. "He's definitely starting to figure it out. Just the way he calms himself down, how much more under control his at-bats are."
The other roster reduction will likely come out of the bullpen, and the decision may well be between left-handers Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge. Furbush was Seattle's most effective pitcher Thursday, working 2-2/3 innings without giving up a hit or run. Furbush walked one and struck out two in reducing his spring earned-run average to 0.87 in seven appearances.
As a Rule 5 player, Luetge would have to be offered back to Milwaukee, the team the Mariners drafted him from, before he could be sent to the minors.
The Mariners have another lefty reliever in George Sherrill, who worked Tuesday for the first time since struggling against Oakland in Japan. His inning was marred only by a walk (though two outs were deep flies), with one strikeout. Sherrill, who had been ill over the weekend, is scheduled to pitch Wednesday, as well.
"I thought he had a better fastball, and he threw a couple of decent breaking balls," Wedge said of Sherrill. "Hopefully, he'll feel OK tomorrow and we'll get him back out there."
The Mariners could have three erstwhile starting pitchers in their bullpen — Furbush, Hisashi Iwakuma and Erasmo Ramirez, who started Tuesday and gave up four hits and two runs in three innings.
Munenori Kawasaki, meanwhile, continued his torrid spring with two more hits, including a triple. That raised his average to .455, highest in all of spring training, Arizona or Florida. Kyle Seager also had two hits, with a triple, and is hitting .362.
Asked if it was going to be difficult to juggle playing time for Kawasaki and Seager, Wedge said, "I don't know about that. Kawasaki's role on this team is more of a utility type. I think one thing we talked about doing is trying to play everyone as best we can and keep everyone fresh and strong. That's where I see Kawasaki fitting in."
The Mariners committed five errors in the game, three by outfielders.
"It was a little bit sloppy, but I just focus on the positive, and that's the way we swung the bat," Wedge said. "It's been a very good offensive spring for us. It's a big step in the right direction. There are a lot of things going on for us offensively that are real, and it should play for us during the season."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com. On Twitter @StoneLarry
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