Seattle Mariners

Mariners’ see former All-Star Ryan Cook ‘playing major role for us’; Ariel Miranda optioned to Tacoma, Ichiro’s status uncertain

The Mariners announced a few roster moves on Sunday.

They re-assigned infielder Zach Vincej, catcher Tuffy Gosewisch and relief pitcher Ryan Cook to their minor-league camp, while optioning right-hander Ariel Miranda to Triple-A Tacoma.

Miranda seems the favorite to return to the Mariners on April 11 when they’d need to add a fifth starter, but they could also go with Rob Whalen.

Gosewisch’s move officially makes Mike Marjima the Mariners’ backup catcher to open the season behind Mike Zunino.

But how about Cook?

He was an All-Star reliever for the Athletics in 2012, but he hasn’t appeared in a game since 2015, missing all of last season because of Tommy John surgery. And he’s appeared in just nine games since 2014.

But between 2012-14, Cook had a 2.60 ERA in 190 2/3 innings, with 197 strikeouts. The Mariners have been in wait-and-see mode with him on a minor league contract and Mariners manager Scott Servais said Cook almost broke onto their major league roster.

“I think he plays a major role for us at some point this season and moving forward,” Servais said. “This guy is a former All-Star. He’s got good stuff and I really tip my cap to him – it’s been two years of him grinding to get to this point. I know his goal was to make our team out of camp and he almost did, but he understands. He knew coming in that he was probably going to spend some time in Triple-A for us.

“I think he’s definitely going to help us. Just not right out of the chute.”

ICHIRO’S STATUS

Servais said they planned to get Ichiro Suzuki back into minor league games on Monday as he recovers from a calf injury and regains his timing at the plate. He said Ichiro has no lingering effects from taking a pitch off his helmet during a minor league game on Friday.

“We need to see where Ichiro is health-wise,” Servais said. “That’s the main concern right now.

“You can’t get back the games (he’s missed). I certainly have a ton of trust in Ichiro and him knowing his body and what it’s going to take for him to be ready for Opening Day.”

But while Ichiro’s injury lingers, outfielder Ben Gamel is moving along ahead of schedule in his return from an oblique injury. He’s been swinging the bat in the cage the past couple of days and Servais said he’s looking great.

“He’s coming along quicker than what was expected,” Servais said. “All of these oblique injuries are different. His is different than what (Mitch) Haniger went through based on what the MRI showed. He has bounced back really quick.”

But the timetable is still for him to work his way back slowly. He needs a spring training so he’d go through a minor-league rehab assignment, which could last for up to 30 days.

For all of the Mariners’ offseason injuries, they have looked much like a full lineup the past two days: with Dee Gordin leading off, Jean Segura second, then Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Ryon Healy, Mitch Haniger, Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia in some order.

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