Mariners Insider Blog

Why Mariners playing 43 innings in three days

Now that the Seattle Mariners are down to 47 players in camp, with a pretty solid idea who will be among the 30 heading to Japan with them on March 22, wonder why they keep playing all these games?

Tonight with Kansas City kicks of quite a three-day run for Seattle - a seven-inning 'B' game with the White Sox tomorrow morning, a night game with the Giants, then a day-night split-squad double-header on Friday against the Brewers and Athletics.

Why 43 innings in 48 hours?

"It's a big week for a lot of players here, and we want to look at as many things as we can," manager Eric Wedge said.

For instance? Well, in that 'B' game tomorrow, Brandon League and Charlie Furbush will each work two innings. Chone Figgins will play second base and Munenori Kawasaki third base for the first time all spring.

Jason Vargas threw 94 pitches in a minor-league intra-squad game today to extend his endurance - and to give Kevin Millwood a prime-time shot at facing big-league hitters with the Royals.

In eight days, the Mariners and 30 players will be flying to Japan for a pair of exhibition games, then the start of the regular season on March 28 in Tokyo.

Wedge could give you his opening day lineup today - and yes, Figgins will bat leadoff and Ichiro Suzuki third - and probably lay out the five-man rotation.  Between now and then there are smaller issues to nail down.

The bullpen, and which pitchers can work multiple innings in relief. The bench, and whether Figgins can play three or four positions a week rather than the same one each day.

From the 30 players who fly to Japan, two will be starting pitchers for the exhibition games there and two will be the regular-season starters - Felix Hernandez and Vargas. A fifth will be another starting pitcher, on hand solely as insurance should Felix or Vargas be unable to pitch.

Once in Japan, the team will designated 28 players as a 25-man roster and three-man 'taxi squad'. The opening day roster will be just that, with the three extra players here to fill in should a player need to be replaced for Game 2 - because of injury.

All in all, questions to be answered, decisions to be reviewed and perhaps tweaked. Come Saturday morning,l after all that baseball, expect the team to make another major roster cut, get the team down to under 40 players.

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