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Vogelbach to break camp with Mariners

No. 11 prospect will back up at first base; Ichiro's status still up in the air
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Ichiro Suzuki's status up in the air due to a lingering right calf issue, the Mariners haven't yet set their final 25-man roster for Thursday's season opener against the Indians. But first-base prospect Daniel Vogelbach was told Sunday he's made the Opening Day roster and will be used as a backup to starter Ryon Healy.

The Mariners reassigned infielder Zach Vincej and reliever Ryan Cook to the Minor Leagues, leaving 32 players in camp. The final roster decisions are being held back in large part because of uncertainty over Ichiro's health, as he's been able to play just four games since signing on March 7.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Ichiro Suzuki's status up in the air due to a lingering right calf issue, the Mariners haven't yet set their final 25-man roster for Thursday's season opener against the Indians. But first-base prospect Daniel Vogelbach was told Sunday he's made the Opening Day roster and will be used as a backup to starter Ryon Healy.

The Mariners reassigned infielder Zach Vincej and reliever Ryan Cook to the Minor Leagues, leaving 32 players in camp. The final roster decisions are being held back in large part because of uncertainty over Ichiro's health, as he's been able to play just four games since signing on March 7.

But Vogelbach received his good news Sunday, and the club's No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, was understandably thrilled.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I feel really good about it," said the 25-year-old, who has opened eyes by hitting .388 with six doubles and six homers in 49 at-bats. "It's pretty cool making your first Opening Day. I've said from the start, this is a really good group of guys in here and I'm just happy I get to compete with them."

Manager Scott Servais said he doesn't want Vogelbach to just sit after his strong spring, and he'll give him an occasional start at first base against right-handed starters and use him as possible off the bench, though pinch-hitting opportunities are limited in the American League.

"You want to get Vogey a start here or there," Servais said. "We will see a lot of right-handed pitching. You don't want to take all the momentum and just go to a dead stop where he doesn't play. So we'll try to get him a start here or there early on here and there."

Vogelbach had an opportunity to earn a platoon role with Danny Valencia at first base last spring, but he struggled in camp and was sent to Triple-A. This year, he said he was much more relaxed and just played his game, and the results landed him on the roster.

"Obviously, last year getting sent down, that's not the feeling you want to feel," Vogelbach said. "This year was a totally different feel. I'm happy that things paid off, but this is just one step from where I want to go with it.

"I'm going to do everything I can to help this team because I think we can win a lot of games," he said. "Whatever my part is, whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."

Though he hadn't been informed yet, utility man Andrew Romine is also clearly going to be kept on the final roster, as Servais said he'll be used as a backup to keep other starters fresh.

The Mariners will open with 12 pitchers, including an eight-man bullpen, but they can carry an extra position player initially since they'll only need four starters for the first 10 games of the season thanks to off-days.

Barring late additions, it appears the bullpen will consist of Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, Dan Altavilla, Marc Rzepczynski, James Pazos, Casey Lawrence and new addition Wade LeBlanc.

• Mariners add lefty LeBlanc to bullpen

If Ichiro isn't ready, Guillermo Heredia will be the starter in left field and hit in the ninth hole, which is where Ichiro was earmarked until his injury issues. Veteran Kirk Nieuwenhuis remains in camp as a non-roster invite and could open the year on the team if Ichiro is on the disabled list.

"We're trying to figure out where we're at with a couple guys still in camp," Servais said. "We'll probably hold right until the end. We need to see where Ichiro is health-wise. That's the main concern right now."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki, Daniel Vogelbach