PEORIA, Ariz. — The Mariners cleaned up their Rule XX (B) free agents Tuesday by releasing left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders and outfielders Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez from their minor-league contracts.
Saunders and Gutierrez then signed new minor-league deals that are not bound by the Rule XX (B) provisions. Chavez opted to become a free agent.
Right-handed pitcher Kevin Correia, who also qualified, was released Monday and chose to become a free agent.
The Rule XX (B) provision covers major-league free agents who sign minor-league contracts. They must be informed, five days prior to the start of the season, whether they will make the major-league roster.
If a qualifying player does not make the roster, he must be released or paid a $100,000 retention bonus and receive a June 1 opt-out clause in his minor-league contract.
Clubs often release such players and attempt to re-sign them to new minor-league deals that aren’t covered by the provision.
Right fielder Seth Smith got another day to rest his sore ankle, but McClendon insisted it’s not a long-term issue.
“He could have played (Monday),” McClendon said. “I didn’t want to take a chance. He rolled his ankle sliding into home. It was a little swollen to the bottom of the foot.
“He wasn’t going to play today (against a left-hander), so I thought it just made sense to give him two more days off.”
Mike Zunino started again Tuesday — he leads all catchers this spring in innings played — but is slotted for a day off Wednesday when the Mariners play the Chicago White Sox at Peoria Stadium.
“There were some things we wanted him to do this spring,” McClendon said. “Taking charge of the staff. Running that staff and getting them to do the things that he needs them to do in order to be successful.
“I think it’s taken the whole six weeks to get that out of the staff. That’s why he’s played as much as he’s played.”
Zunino contends he enjoys the heavy workload.
“I’ve been in there six, seven innings,” he said, “but it’s been multiple days, and I think that’s the best thing because, for me, it’s about getting that recovery back. Getting your body to the condition to play the next day.”