SHANNON DRAYER

Notebook: Mariners’ plan for opening series in Japan slowly forming

Feb 27, 2019, 12:13 PM | Updated: 12:35 pm

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Mariners LHP Marco Gonzales got the start for Seattle's season and home openers. (AP)

(AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – The Mariners will stay in rotation this week, which may or may not be an indicator of the rotation order heading into the season. Adding to the intrigue are manager Scott Servais’ comments after Marco Gonzales’ performance Tuesday.

Takeaways: Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto’s interview with Brock & Salk

“It’s moving in the right direction, getting ready to open this thing up in a few weeks,” Servais said on the field following the game.

Servais clarified his statement Wednesday morning.

“He’s getting ready for his first start,” he said.

Make of that what you will, but Gonzales would be a logical choice to start one of the first two games in Japan if not the opener itself. Plenty can happen between now and then – and after. The start and stop of the Mariners’ 2019 season, travel days and exhibition games give them flexibility with their pitching plans, but it also presents scheduling challenges not usually encountered in spring training.

“We’ve played around with a lot of different scenarios and how to make it work,” said Servais. “At some point instead of four days rest, some guys are going to start on five or even six days rest. That’s just where we are at. Those games certainly are important, they count, but I don’t think our season will be defined on how we play in those two games. It’s two games.”

The early start will also force some early roster decisions. The Mariners and A’s will be allowed to post a 28-man roster for the two games played in Japan and they will bring a small taxi squad – players who can be put on the roster if there is an injury while in Japan – as well.

The 28-man roster that is set ahead of the series in Japan however will essentially be the official Opening Day roster plus three. The significance here is that players who are out of options will need to be placed on the 28-man roster or exposed to waivers.

Another decision will need to be made on what to do with center fielder Mallex Smith, who is not expected to be ready for the two games in Japan due to an arm injury. Will the Mariners place him on the 10-day Injured List and not have him available for the opening homestand at T-Mobile Park, or will they carry him on the 28-man roster and not play him in the field? Just a couple of things to keep in mind as decisions are made.

For now, the Mariners have a game against the Indians in Goodyear.

Lineup!

Shed Long, 2B
Tim Beckham, SS
Domingo Santana, LF
Omar Narváez, DH
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B
Kyle Lewis, CF
Ichiro, RF
Dylan Moore, 3B
David Freitas, C

Mike Leake, RHP

Look who is back in right field. On Tuesday we saw something you rarely see: an 18-year veteran as a late-game replacement when Ichiro took over for Edwin Encarnación at DH. The reason? To get him ready for the Japan series.

Posted game pitchers: Hunter Strickland, Brandon Brennan, Gerson Bautista, Matt Festa, Matt Tenuta, Ryan Garton.

Notes

• Ryan Healy was scratched from the original lineup against Cleveland after morning batting practice. Omar Narváez took his place at DH.

• Wade LeBlanc will start the B-game against the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization in Friday’s 10 a.m. game on Field 1 at the Mariners complex. Justus Sheffield will start the game against the Brewers in the stadium later that day.

• It’s Wednesday, and that means there was Wednesday morning cheer provided in the form of coffee and donuts courtesy of Double-A manager Mitch Canham, and a hearty greeting from minor league performance coach David Franco. If you have been following along you will notice that we have the addition of costumes and decorations this week.

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