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Originally published May 27, 2013 at 4:39 PM | Page modified May 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM

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Mariners aren't tipping their hand on minor-league pitcher Jeremy Bonderman

Veteran pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, pitching for the Mariners' Class AAA team in Tacoma, can become a free agent if he's not added to the big-league roster by Saturday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Well lets see hes getting shelled in Tacoma, but since hes " a proven... MORE

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Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik would not tip his hand Monday as to the immediate future of Class AAA starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, who can become a free agent Saturday if he's not added to the big-league roster.

Bonderman could replace Brandon Maurer in the Mariners' rotation if Maurer gets roughed up by San Diego in his Tuesday start.

Bonderman was hit hard his last time out and is due to pitch again Tuesday. Zduriencik would not comment directly on Bonderman's contract status but did say: "With any player, they need to look at what they think may be their best opportunities. When they view what they're doing and the possibilities, there are a lot of factors that tie in to why that helps him make a decision, if he has a decision to make.

"So, in this case, this is a great spot for him. He's a local guy and we've invested some time with him and I think he appreciates that. So, he just needs to continue to pitch and wait for the opportunity."

Zduriencik would not say how much longer he'd like to see Bonderman pitch in AAA.

"It's hard to say," Zduriencik said. "You don't want to say 'A few more starts,' because you really don't know. But he's done very well, he's been very diligent in his work habits ... he's getting very close to being a big-league pitcher."

Notes

Jason Bay's leadoff homer in the first inning Monday was the first of his career and the sixth by the Mariners this season, already setting a club record.

Justin Smoak was said to be feeling a bit better Monday as the Mariners continue to monitor his stiff right oblique muscle. The team could take another day or two to decide whether to place him on the 15-day DL.

• The four first-inning runs by the Mariners marked the fourth time they've scored that many in one frame this season. The Mariners are 10-6 when they score in the first inning.

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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