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With the roster all but set, how does Eric Wedge intend to play everyone?

By Shannon Drayer

The final roster moves have yet to be made and Jack Zduriencik said Thursday morning that the moves will most likely not come until the deadline to set the 25-man rosters on Sunday morning.

“At this moment in time we don’t have any information except to say that we don’t have to have the rosters set ’til Sunday, so what we are going to do is let it play itself out,” he told the media in Peoria.

Jason Bay appears to have secured a roster spot on the Mariners’ final roster, but how much the team plans to use him remains to be seen. (AP)

There is little question that the team has settled on Jason Bay for the final outfield spot but with the possibility of an injury between now and the roster deadline it makes sense to hold off on doing anything with Casper Wells until they absolutely have to. For now, Wells will stay back in Peoria when the team leaves for Salt Lake City to allow him to get at-bats and stay ready for the regular season, be it with the Mariners or another team.

It will be interesting to see what happens with that fifth outfield spot. How much will that person play? If they went with Wells, which again looks highly unlikely baring injury, you would think that he would be more of a true fifth outfielder/defense guy who doesn’t play a ton, while Bay, who’s decent on the corners, would most likely be kept because of what they think he could do with the bat. It would seem that if they committed to keeping Bay, to best utilize him they would need to play him more than a typical 25th man on the roster.

I asked Eric Wedge just how he plans to use his fifth outfielder. It is clearly something he has been mulling over.

“That’s a good question because I think it depends on who it is because they have different skill sets,” he said. “I think you can do more with one than the other and you can do more with the other one than the other. That’s is a big part of how we are looking at this, really. Depending on who you talk to you get one opinion or another, quite frankly. We all have our thoughts but we are going to give it time.

“What you have got to be careful with is not getting too caught up in once you break camp thinking that is going to be your team for 162 games,” he continued. “I try to play it forward. I work under the assumption of regardless of who we have on our club there’s a chance that he might be playing everyday at some point in time. I think you have to take that into consideration. That is something I think about quite a bit.”

An interesting thing that has happened this spring is that no hitter that is expected to make this ballclub has underperformed. Justin Smoak is hitting, as is Kendrys Morales. Raul Ibanez looks like he can still hit the baseball. Bay has showed a little with the bat and is a better outfielder than expected. Michael Morse needs to be in the lineup every day.

The problem, and it is a good problem to have, is that it doesn’t appear that Wedge will be able to use the DH spot to get extra guys at-bats. The DH more often than not will be Morales, who appears to have the leg injury completely behind him. There is absolutely no excuse to sit Smoak if he continues to hit the way he has hit this spring and last September.

What about Jesus Montero, who is also hitting?

“His playing time is going to have to be behind home plate,” Wedge acknowledged.

“I felt like he turned a corner about halfway through camp,” he continued. “Having said that, Kelly Shoppach is going to catch, too, because we need to make sure we keep Monty strong and keep him in a position where he can perform to the best of his ability. But I do feel comfortable catching him more than last year.”

One thing that will help Wedge in making out the lineup card is he does have a good amount of flexibility with his outfielders.

“What you have seen with those extra guys is I have bounced them between left and right so those are options for anyone of them depending on the ballpark, depending on the pitcher, those things all come into consideration,” he said. “We will work that on a game-to-game basis depending on who’s in the lineup.”

Good luck predicting that lineup on a day-to-day basis.

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