PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Ichiro Suzuki's status up in the air due to a lingering calf issue, the Mariners haven't yet set their 25-man roster for Thursday's season opener against the Indians. But first-base prospect Daniel Vogelbach was told Sunday that he's made the Opening Day roster and will be
PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Ichiro Suzuki's status up in the air due to a lingering calf issue, the Mariners haven't yet set their 25-man roster for Thursday's season opener against the Indians. But first-base prospect Daniel Vogelbach was told Sunday that he's made the Opening Day roster and will be used as a backup to starter Ryon Healy.
The Mariners optioned left-hander Ariel Miranda to Triple-A Tacoma and also reassigned catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, infielder Zach Vincej and reliever Ryan Cook to the Minor Leagues, leaving 31 players in camp. The final roster decisions are being held back because of uncertainty over Ichiro's health; he's been able to play just four games since signing on March 7 due to a calf issue.
Vogelbach, the club's No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, was understandably thrilled to receive his good news.
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"I feel really good about it," said the 25-year-old, who has opened eyes by hitting .400 with seven doubles and six homers in 50 at-bats. "It's pretty cool making your first Opening Day [roster]. 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 sit after his strong spring. He'll give Vogelbach 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."
Vogelbach had an opportunity to earn a platoon role at first base last spring with Danny Valencia, 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," Vogelbach 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 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. They'll only need four starters for the first 10 games of the season, due 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.
If Ichiro isn't ready, Guillermo Heredia will be the starter in left field and hit in the No. 9 spot, which is where Ichiro had been set to bat. Veteran Kirk Nieuwenhuis remains in camp as a non-roster invitee 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.