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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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March 29, 2008 11:53 AM

Mariners set roster, with some surprises

Posted by Larry Stone

It was a weird scene this morning at Cashman Field, with the Mariners' brass huddling in the bowels of the stadium, and a mixture of elated and devastated players as they learned their fate to start the season.

The most dejected was R.A. Dickey, who in a weird twist found himself optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. Here's how that came down: the Mariners swung a deal with the Twins, sending catcher Jair Fernandez to Minnesota in exchange for the Twins rejecting Seattle's offer to return Dickey to their organization. As a Rule 5 selection, the Mariners had to offer Dickey back to the Twins before sending him to the minors. Dickey also was available via waivers to the other 28 clubs, but surprisingly was not grabbed by anyone. Dickey, who pitched great all spring, was truly stunned and disappointed to be going to the minors, but took it like a pro.

The Mariners decided to keep an 11-man pitching staff, and with Dickey out, the beneficiary was Cha Seung Baek, who makes the team. The Mariners simply didn't want to risk losing Baek, who was out of options. Also making the team was Ryan Rowland-Smith, giving them a pen of J.J. Putz, Erik O'Flaherty, Mark Lowe, Sean Green, Rowland-Smith and Baek.

That means that they will keep five reserves instead of four, and the five are...drum roll...Willie Bloomquist, Miguel Cairo, Jamie Burke, Mike Morse and Charlton Jimerson. The happiest people in Vegas (outside the casinos, anyway), were Morse and Jimerson, who made a major league roster out of spring for the first time in their career. The odd man out was Greg Norton, who was re-assigned to minor league camp and will apparently report to Tacoma.

The Mariners now are down to 26 players. All those people who had Anderson Garcia as the last man to be cut for the roster, take a bow. For some reason, Garcia is still around, but the right-handed pitcher will be cut shortly.

Interesting moves that I'm sure will be heatily debated by you folks. Not sure if they really need a five-man bench, but the fact that Dickey got to stay in the organization I'm sure was huge in their decision making. I think the biggest factor of all was not wanting to lose Baek, who essentially is their sixth starter, insurance if one of the Big Five goes down. As for Dickey, I have no doubt we will see him in Seattle before the year is through.

We also chatted with Brandon Morrow, who seemed on board with the decision to send him to Double-A West Tennessee to regain his form. He was encouraged that his shoulder feels good and he's throwing hard. He expects to be back with the team soon.

That's a lot to chew on. Have at it.

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