Seattle Mariners

Erasmo Ramirez to make 2018 debut for Mariners; who goes to make room on the roster?

Seattle Mariners left fielder Guillermo Heredia catches a fly ball out in foul territory on Kansas City Royals' Melky Cabrera to end the first inning during the second baseball game of a double header on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 at Kauffman Stadium.
Seattle Mariners left fielder Guillermo Heredia catches a fly ball out in foul territory on Kansas City Royals' Melky Cabrera to end the first inning during the second baseball game of a double header on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 at Kauffman Stadium. TNS

Now starting for your Seattle Mariners.... pitcher Erasmo Ramirez.

And still on the active roster, Ichiro.

That's because Seattle decided it wouldn't part with one of the franchise icons on Sunday in order to make way for Ramirez, who is coming off the disabled list after rehabbing a latissiumus dorsi strain that he suffered back in spring training. Instead, another outfielder, Guillmero Heredia, was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

Ramirez, 27, fills the role of the team's fifth starter previously played by Ariel Miranda, who started for the team on Tuesday. But because of the logjam of outfielders on the roster, it was Miranda who was optioned after the game instead of the team dealing with the issue of how to use five outfielders now that Ben Gamel is healthy and ready to occupy left field on a mostly full-time basis.

The team punted — to use a football analogy — the issue again when it activated Ramirez on Sunday. That gives the Mariners five outfielders — Gamel, Ichiro, Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz, who is really only an outfielder in name only these days.

The issue of what to do with Ichiro, who hasn't been as productive in his age 44 season as the younger Heredia, still remains. The team faces another roster crunch when first baseman Ryon Healy is ready to return from the DL although it could just send down Daniel Vogelbach if it decides to swap first baseman.

Ramírez, who turns 28 on May 2, began his rehab assignment on April 7 with Single-A Modesto, and then made two starts for the Rainiers.

Last season, Ramirez was a solid performer after coming over in a trade with Tampa Bay. He had a combined record of 5-6 with a 4.39 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 131.1 innings.

Heredia, 27, has appeared in 16 games with the Mariners this season, batting .310 with two home runs and four RBI.

Compare that to Ichiro, who is batting .212 in 33 at-bats. All seven of his hits have been singles.

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