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Originally published January 29, 2013 at 4:49 PM | Page modified January 30, 2013 at 12:08 AM

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Mariners are close to a deal with veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach

Kelly Shoppach, who played for Mariners manager Eric Wedge in Cleveland, is close to signing with Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said Tuesday the team is close to signing veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach.

"We're still going through our final discussions on that," Zduriencik said.

But Zduriencik's words indicated a deal is close. A subsequent report on MLB.com said Shoppach could take a physical in Seattle on Wednesday ahead of any deal, though it might not be immediately announced.

Shoppach, who turns 33 in April, is expected to sign a major-league contract, and a roster spot would have to be cleared before the deal becomes official.

The team's 40-man roster is presently full, so a player would have to be removed and Shoppach inserted in his place.

The Mariners would use Shoppach, a right-handed hitter, in tandem with Jesus Montero behind the plate — though likely not for very long given the limited usage of both as catchers up to now. Shoppach hasn't had more than 253 plate appearances in any season since 2009, when he played under manager Eric Wedge in Cleveland.

With Montero still largely inexperienced as a catcher, teaming him with backup Shoppach is likely an indication that Seattle expects top prospect Mike Zunino to be promoted to the majors after a couple of months. The Mariners would want to keep Zunino in Class AAA at least until June in order to avoid having him qualify for arbitration a year early.

Shoppach hit .233 with a .309 on-base percentage and .425 slugging percentage last season in 76 games with the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @gbakermariners. Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners.

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