The Mariners Mariners left from Peoria, Ariz., about noon Thursday for the 45-minute drive to Phoenixs Sky Harbor Airport and then for the 13-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean to Japan.
On the plane were 30 players, all of whom will be eligible to play in two exhibition games and 28 of whom will be on the active roster for the two season-opening games against the Oakland Athletics March 28-29, but only 25 of whom can actually play in the games in the Tokyo Dome against the As.
In a normal season, the 40-man roster (those eligible to play in the big leagues) and the 25-man active roster would have to be set 24 hours before the seasons first game. Simple.
Not so much for teams starting the season half a globe away and a week early. Under this years Major League Baseball rules, all 30 players on the plane are eligible to play in the exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants this weekend. An active roster of 28 players has to be set before the two games against the As, but only 25 of those 28 can be designated to play.
The 28-man list must include all players who are expected to wind up on the 25-man roster to start the season back in North America, so starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, who is going to be part of the rotation but who isnt travelling to Japan because hes not due to pitch, has to be on it.
That brings the total number of positions in play to 31. Three will have to be moved off the roster the morning of the opener with the As, and three more, one of whom will be Millwood, will be still on the roster but will be designated as inactive for the two games against Oakland.
With the move Thursday morning to put lefty reliever Cesar Jimenez on the roster of Triple-A Tacoma, the Mariners the 40-man roster is now at 37, leaving three open spaces needed for the ability to put three non-roster invitees Millwood, infielder Munenori Kawasaki and, possibly, right-handed pitcher Erasmo Ramirez on the 25-man active roster once the season starts in North America.
Heres the 30-man traveling squad:
Starters (4): Blake Beavan, Felix Hernandez, Hector Noesi, Jason Vargas.
Catchers (4): John Jaso, Jesus Montero, Miguel Olivo, Guillermo Quiroz.
Bullpen (10): Steve Delabar, Charlie Furbush, Hisashi Iwakuma, Shawn Kelley, Brandon League, Lucas Luetge, Erasmo Ramirez, Chance Ruffin, George Sherrill, Tom Wilhelmsen.
Outfielders (5): Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero, Michael Saunders, Ichiro Suzuki, Casper Wells.
Infielders (7): Dustin Ackley, Chone Figgins, Munenori Kawasaki, Alex Liddi, Brendan Ryan, Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak.
The seven players still on the 40-man roster but not making the trip are two players expected to start the season on the disabled list, center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and catcher Adam Moore, and five players likely to start the season in the minor leagues catcher Jesus Sucre, third baseman Vinnie Catricala, shortstop Luis Rodriguez and outfielder Mike Wilson.
The seven players will be available to rejoin the team and play in the five Cactus League games that await Seattle after the club returns from Tokyo.
Manager Eric Wedge said that the club will take 12 pitchers, which means only seven of the 10 relievers will make it. Its likely that Ramirez, a right-hander the Mariners see as a starter, figures to be one cut. Another will be a choice between two lefties, Rule 5 pickup Luetge and Furbush. And the last cut is likely to be between two right-handers, Delabar and Ruffin.
Three catchers are going to make the roster, and Quiroz will be the odd man out.
Heres a best-guess of the 25-man roster to start the season:
In the infield, either Seager or Liddi will be sent down, while in the outfield, the choice will come down to Peguero or Wells.
Starters (5): Blake Beavan, Felix Hernandez, Kevin Millwood, Hector Noesi, Jason Vargas.
Bullpen (7): Charlie Furbush, Hisashi Iwakuma, Shawn Kelley, Brandon League, Chance Ruffin, George Sherrill, Tom Wilhelmsen.
Catchers (3): John Jaso, Jesus Montero, Miguel Olivo.
Infielders (6): Dustin Ackley, Chone Figgins, Munenori Kawasaki, Brendan Ryan, Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak.
Outfielders (4): Mike Carp, Michael Saunders, Ichiro Suzuki, Casper Wells.
Disabled list (2): center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, catcher Adam Moore.
Mariners’ Opening Day Roster
|49||Blake Beavan||R-R||6-7||240||17-Jan-89||Irving, TX.|
|35||Steve Delabar||R-R||6-5||220||17-Jul-83||Fort Knox, KY|
|41||Charlie Furbush||L-L:||6-5||215||11-Apr-86||Portland, ME|
|34||Felix Hernandez||R-R||6-3||230||8-Apr-86||Valenciz, VZ|
|18||Hisashi Iwakuma||R-R||6-3||190||12-Apr-81||Tokyo, Japan|
|23||Shawn Kelley||R-R||6-2||220||26-Apr-84||Louisville, KY|
|43||Brandon League||R-R||6-2||210||16-Mar-83||Sacramento, CA.|
|25||Kevin Millwood||R-R||6-2||210||16-Mar-83||Sacramento, CA.|
|44||Lucas Luetge||L-L||6-4||205||24-Mar-87||Brenham, TX.|
|45||Hector Noesi||R-R||6-3||200||26-Jan-87||Valverde, DR|
|50||Erasmo Ramirez||R-R||6-0||180||29-Apr-76||Santa Ana, CA.|
|52||George Sherrill||L-L||6-0||225||19-Apr-77||Memphis, TN.|
|38||Jason Vargas||L-L||6-0||215||2-Feb-83||Apple Valley, CA.|
|54||Tom Wilhelmsen||R-R||6-6||230||16-Dec-83||Tucson, AZ.|
|27||John Jaso||L-R||6-2||205||19-Sep-83||Chula Vista, CA.|
|63||Jesus Montero||R-R||6-3||235||28-Nov-89||Carabob, VZ|
|30||Miguel Olivo||R-R||6-3||230||15-Jul-78||Villa Vasquez, DR|
|13||Dustin Ackley||L-R||6-1||190||26-Feb-88||Winston-Salem, N.C.|
|9||Chone Figgins||S-R||5-9||180||22-Jan-78||Leary, GA.|
|61||Munenori Kawasaki||S-R||5-10||165||3-Jun-81||Kagoshima, JP|
|16||Alex Liddi||R-R||6-4||230||14-Aug-88||San Remo, Italy|
|26||Brendan Ryan||R-R||6-2||195||26-Mar-82||Los Angeles, CA.|
|15||Kyle Seager||L-R||6-0||195||3-Nov-87||Charlotte, N.C.|
|17||Justin Smoak||S-L||6-4||230||5-Dec-86||Goose Creek, SC.|
|20||Mike Carp||L-R||6-2||210||30-Jun-86||Long Beach, CA.|
|55||Michael Saunders||L-R||6-4||215||19-Nov-86||Victoria, B.C.|
|51||Ichiro Suzuki||L-R||5-11||170||22-Oct-73||Kobe, Japan|
|33||Casper Wells||R-R||6-2||210||11-Nov-84||Grand Rapids, MI|