PEORIA, Ariz. -- Shortstop Jean Segura, one of the Mariners' key offseason acquisitions, will join a large group of Seattle players competing in the World Baseball Classic, as he's been chosen to replace Hanley Ramirez on the Dominican Republic's roster.Ramirez is dealing with a right shoulder injury and will remain
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Shortstop Jean Segura, one of the Mariners' key offseason acquisitions, will join a large group of Seattle players competing in the World Baseball Classic, as he's been chosen to replace Hanley Ramirez on the Dominican Republic's roster.
Ramirez is dealing with a right shoulder injury and will remain in Red Sox camp. Segura will take his spot and Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said he has been assured that Segura will play shortstop for the Dominican club so he continues working at the same position he'll fill with Seattle.
"It means a lot," Segura said. "Not just to me, but my family and my country, too, the people that love watching us play baseball. It's an honor to be a Dominican boy representing my country in the World Baseball Classic. It's going to be awesome."
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Segura, who led the National League with 203 hits last season while with the D-backs, is off to a strong start this spring with the Mariners, going 6-for-8 with two doubles and a home run in his first three Cactus League games.
Segura joins Mariners teammates Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz on the defending-champion Dominican squad. Other Mariners competing in the 2017 Classic will be starting pitchers Felix Hernandez (Venezuela) and Yovani Gallardo (Mexico) and closer Edwin Diaz (Puerto Rico), while starter Drew Smyly could be added to Team USA for the second or third rounds of the tournament.
Five other Mariners Minor Leaguers are slated to compete, including three who are currently taking part in Major League camp -- outfielder Tyler O'Neill (Canada), catcher Sebastian Valle (Mexico) and reliever Pat Venditte (Italy).
Dipoto acknowledged the mass departure will change the look of Mariners camp until those players return.
"We're going to get a pretty good look at the [High-A Minor League affiliate] Modesto Nuts next week; that's the reality of our situation," Dipoto said with a smile. "We're losing a dozen guys camp wide and 10 at the big-league level. We're losing our middle infield, roughly half our lineup and at least 40 percent of our starting rotation. It'll be an interesting 10-day stretch for us, but it gives us a great opportunity to look at [other] guys."
Segura, Cano and Cruz -- the Nos. 2-4 hitters in Seattle's lineup -- will play their final Cactus League games on Saturday before joining the Dominican team for workouts. That squad opens play on March 9, and it could potentially play through the championship game on March 22. Seattle's regular-season opener is April 3 in Houston.
Gallardo will make his second Cactus League start on Saturday against the Rockies in Scottsdale, and Hernandez is slated for his second spring outing Sunday against the A's in Peoria before they both depart as well.
"I'm pretty fired up that the world thinks enough of our players that they're taking a dozen of them," Dipoto said. "And it could have been much worse. We had other really good players say no. So we're looking at it as a benefit."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
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