Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 3/27/12
Let’s Play Ball!

The Seattle Mariners are in Japan for the start of the season, where they will play two games against the Oakland Athletics, before heading back to spring training until the regular season begins.

Because the Mariners are starting the season early they started their spring training before any other major league club, this extra time was partially to aid the coaches in the difficult process of finalizing both the 40 man and the 25 man roster.

Here is the updated 25 man roster.

The starting rotation as of opening day will be:

RHP – Felix Hernandez
LHP – Jason Vargas
RHP – Hector Noesi* (currently not on the active roster for Japan trip)
RHP – Blake Beavan
RHP – Kevin Millwood* (currently not on the active roster for Japan trip)

The rotation was a bit of a question mark heading into the spring. Most surprising in this is that Blake Bevan, who joined the rotation for an injured Eric Bedard mid-2011 beat out newly acquired Hishashi Iwakuma who will start the season in the Bullpen.  Iwakuma has been an elite level starter in Japan for years but has struggled some this spring.

The bullpen was a bit of a question mark heading into the spring.

Iwakuma however will not be eligible to play in the first two games of the season and therefore will not be on this list until the regular season restarts.

The bullpen will be home to:

RHP -  Hisashi Iwakuma* (currently not on the active roster for Japan trip)
RHP – Steve Delabar
RHP – Shawn Kelly
LHP – Lucas Luetge
LHP – George Sherill
RHP – Erasmo Ramirez
LHP – Charlie Furbush
RHP – Tom Wilhelmsen
RHP – Brandon League

The story in the pen this season is Lucas Luetge, the rule five draft pick.  Under the rules of rule five, Luetge has to remain on the 25 man roster the entire season or be returned to his parent club, the Milwaukee Brewers.

With an unproven starting rotation the Bullpen will need to be particularly strong this season.

The infielders starting the season will be:

1B – Justin Smoak
2B – Dustin Ackley
3B – Chone Figgins
SS – Brendan Ryan
UTL – Kyle Seager
UTL – Alex Liddi
UTL – Munenori Kawasaki

There are some interesting versatility options open to the Mariners this season as Figgins will be used in more of a utility role, but being used as the regular lead-off man in the line-up. Kawasaki’s presence could be a real lift for the M’s if Brendan Ryan continues to struggle with durability.

Catching duties will be held by:

Miguel Olivo
Jesus Montero
John Jaso

Eric Wedge has already stated that Montero will be getting every day at bats in this season, so he will likely be more of a DH than a catcher, but the M’s are hoping Montero can be established as the starting catcher of the future and as such will be splitting time with Olivo behind the dish as well.

However John Jaso will likely take the pressure off of Olivo from having to carry through so many games again this season.

Chone Figgins is likely to get some playing time in the outfield

The outfielders at the start of this season contain:

Mike Carp
Michael Saunders
Ichiro Suzuki
Casper Wells

Chone Figgins is likely to get some playing time in the outfield as well so playing time will be at a premium in center field especially. Carlos Peguero, who had a strong spring showing will be knocking at the door, so there will be little room for error, but if Saunders finally delivers his potential it could make things difficult when Guti gets back to full strength.

The DH position will be used more as a rotation tool at the start of the season as the M’s seek to keep their young players in the line-up as much as possible.

Starting off the season on the DL:

CF – Franklin Gutierrez
C – Adam Moore

Guti and Moore continue to flirt with promise but end up injured.  However, this is one of the shortest opening day disabled lists that the Mariners have held in years.

The key area of improvement this season will be offense and Eric Wedge will not show as much patience for players trying to “find themselves” in his second season of work in Seattle.

With all that being said the Mariners are still likely to struggle in this area in an ever competitive A.L. West.

Seattle is poised for third place as their landing spot for the year, but if the dominoes fall just right, maybe they could surprise us with a little more oomph.

The Roster will shift slightly when the special circumstances in Japan are over.  Watch for the news right here on NWSportsBeat.com

CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE MARINERS CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!

© Danny Ferguson for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: 2012 Seattle Mariners roster, Adam Moore, Alex Liddi, Blake Bleven, Brandon League, Brendan Ryan, Carlos Peguero, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chone Figgins, Dustin Ackley, Erasmo Ramirez, Felix Hernandez, Franklin Gutierrez, George Sherill, Hector Noesi, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ichiro Suzuki, Jason Vargas, Jesus Montero, John Jaso, Justin Smoak, Kevin Millwood, Kyle Seager, Lucas Luetge, M's MLB news, Mariners vs. A's, Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, Miquel Olivo, MLB, Munenori Kawasaki, Seattle Baseball, Seattle Mariners Blog, Shawn Kelly, Steve Delabar, Tokyo, Tom Wilhelmsen

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