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Bay or Wells? Mariners still mulling team's final roster spot

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By Ryan Divish
The News Tribune
MESA, Ariz. -- There was hope for some finality on the Seattle Mariners' last day in Arizona. Instead, outfielders Casper Wells and Jason Bay will remain in baseball-roster limbo a few more days.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge hoped to announce Thursday morning who won the competition between Bay and Wells for the final roster spot, but those plans were scuttled.
General manager Jack Zduriencik decided that since the Mariners' official 25-man roster doesn't have to be finalized until noon (PST) Sunday, the team would wait until then.
"I know you are anxiously awaiting a decision," Zduriencik said. "But at this moment in time, we don't have any information except to say that we don't have to have the rosters set (until) Sunday so what we are going to do is let itself play out."
It appears the Mariners plan to keep Bay. Wells remained in Peoria on Thursday and played in a minor-league game. He will continue to do that today and Saturday.
"We want him to get his at-bats," Zduriencik said. "For the last few days he hasn't played quite all that much. Our decision was to keep him here, let him play and he can certainly get three games in, four, five at-bats per game, so it worked good for him."
Bay traveled to Mesa with the big-league club, played five innings and went 1-for-2 in Seattle's 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.
"Not all the decisions have been made and we told (Wells and Bay) that," Wedge said "I wish I could tell you more, I wish I could tell them more. Quite frankly we have to let this play out and do what's best for the ballclub."
So why not make the move now?
Think of Wells as a three-day insurance policy in case of a freak injury or if something were to happen to Franklin Gutierrez. If the ever-fragile Gutierrez suffers a complication with the sore legs he's battled this spring, the Mariners would still have Wells to fill in.
"Quite frankly, what we're trying to do is just give ourselves a little more time," Wedge said. "When you talk about spring training, and particularly the end of spring training, you want to protect yourself against so many different things and one of them is injury, quite frankly. So, if you don't have to make a decision early, you try not to do it."
The fragility of Gutierrez is one of the reasons the Mariners signed Endy Chavez to a minor-league contract and will stash him at Class AAA Tacoma. If the team goes with Bay and loses Wells on waivers, Chavez will be in Tacoma ready if Gutierrez gets hurt.
"I'm going to continue to make sure we take care of him, especially early on in the season," Wedge said of Gutierrez. "It's fair to say, he's going to get days off. We're a better ballclub when he's in there. But if he's not an option for us, it doesn't do us any good."
It's difficult to imagine the Mariners would be able to keep Wells if they designate him for assignment. It's likely a team would claim him off waivers. The waivers process lasts three days. If Wells were to clear waivers, the Mariners could keep him and outright him to Tacoma. By waiting until the very end of spring training, it increases the chances Wells might sneak through waivers because most teams' rosters would be finalized.
Iwakuma's day ends early
Hisashi Iwakuma left Thursday's game a little earlier than expected. The right-hander was bothered by an irritation on the inside of his middle finger, near the finger nail.
"I had some dry skin that peeled off," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "It happens every year in spring training, nothing that I'm worried about."
There was fair-sized callous on the finger, which is common for pitchers because of the friction caused by a baseball's seems.
"Nothing of concern," Wedge said. "We were going to pull him back anyway. It all worked out well. No reason to push it."
Iwakuma pitched four innings, giving up three runs on five hits -- including a two-run homer to Alfonso Soriano. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter.
Story tags » Mariners

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