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Mariners finalize Opening Day roster

Thursday's starting nine includes Ichiro batting ninth after being cleared to play
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- The Mariners finalized their 25-man roster on Wednesday, reassigning utility man Taylor Motter to Triple-A and placing three injured players on the 10-day disabled list prior to Thursday's opener against the Indians.

Manager Scott Servais also set his Opening Day lineup, which will include Ichiro Suzuki hitting ninth after he was cleared to play following Wednesday's workout at Safeco Field.

SEATTLE -- The Mariners finalized their 25-man roster on Wednesday, reassigning utility man Taylor Motter to Triple-A and placing three injured players on the 10-day disabled list prior to Thursday's opener against the Indians.

Manager Scott Servais also set his Opening Day lineup, which will include Ichiro Suzuki hitting ninth after he was cleared to play following Wednesday's workout at Safeco Field.

"Since I've been here, it's our deepest lineup," said Servais, who is starting his third year with the team. "We can run, we've got power. We've got some guys who can control the strike zone very well. Hopefully, it leads to a lot of runs this year.

"We can go about it a number of different ways. You aren't going to hit homers every night. You've got to find other ways to score runs and I think we can do that."

Outfielder Ben Gamel and pitchers Erasmo Ramirez and David Phelps were placed on the 10-day disabled list. Gamel took batting practice Wednesday and continues to look ahead of schedule as he returns from a strained right oblique, but will need to go out on a Minor League rehab assignment before he's ready.

Ramirez is starting to ramp up his return from a strained right lat and is targeted for a late April return, while Phelps has already had Tommy John surgery and ultimately will go on the 60-day DL, though that can't happen until Seattle's 40-man roster is full.

The Mariners currently are at 39 on their 40-man after selecting the contract of reliever Casey Lawrence, who had been in camp on a Minor League deal.

The club also reassigned Hisashi Iwakuma to the Minors. Iwakuma is also injured, but is on a Minor League contract, so he's not officially on the DL.

Here's how the final roster sets up:

Catcher (2): Mike Zunino, Mike Marjama

Marjama, acquired last August from the Rays, beat out offseason waiver pickup David Freitas for the backup job with a strong offensive camp and earns his first Opening Day roster berth.

First base (2): Ryon Healy, Daniel Vogelbach

Healy's right hand is fully recovered from Feb. 14 surgery to remove a bone spur, but Vogelbach had such a strong spring that the Mariners decided to keep the big rookie on the initial roster thanks, in part, to having an extra spot to open the year while they only need four starting pitchers. The question is how much playing time he'll get and what will happen when Seattle needs to bring up a fifth starter on April 11.

Video: SEA@COL: Vogelbach cranks a go-ahead homer to center

Second base (1): Robinson Cano

Never a question here, as long as Cano is healthy. His spring was limited by a sore hamstring, but he's ready to roll now.

Shortstop (1): Jean Segura

Segura also dealt with a couple of injuries, including a sprained thumb late in camp, but the man always seems to hit and he batted .405 for the spring.

Third base (1): Kyle Seager

Mr. Dependable continues his Ironman run. One of the few Mariners with no health issues all camp.

Video: LAA@SEA: Seager drills a solo homer in the 7th

Designated hitter (1): Nelson Cruz

The 37-year-old Cruz has recorded an OPS of over .900 in each of his first three seasons with the Mariners.

Utility (1): Andrew Romine

The Mariners brought the former Tiger in because of his veteran presence and ability to play anywhere on the field. He'll be used everywhere in the infield as a backup and has considerable outfield experience as well, which could be useful given the injury status there.

Outfield (4): Mitch Haniger, Dee Gordon, Ichiro, Guillermo Heredia

An oblique injury to Gamel opened the door for Ichiro's signing. Gordon has been outstanding all spring, Haniger is just getting his timing down after a late start with a sore hand, and Heredia has been a life saver with his early return from shoulder surgery.

Starting pitchers (4): Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Mike Leake, Marco Gonzales

The Mariners can open the year with four starters due to three off-days in the first nine days of the schedule. Hernandez gets the Opening Day start despite a short spring, but impressed the club with how he's performed when healthy, while Gonzales answered a lot of questions with his outstanding camp.

Video: LAA@SEA: Gonzales stifles Halos over 5 2/3 scoreless

Ramirez is just starting to throw after straining his lat muscle the first week of spring, but is due back in late April. Ariel Miranda will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to fill the fifth starter role on April 11.

Bullpen (8): Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, Marc Rzepczynski, James Pazos, Dan Altavilla, Lawrence, Wade LeBlanc

Injuries to Phelps, Nick Rumbelow and Tony Zych created some openings. Lawrence -- a non-roster invitee who had a strong camp -- and late pickup LeBlanc fill the final spots in an eight-man bullpen to open the year.

Altavilla looked impressive all spring and will take on more of a late-inning role than expected after Phelps blew out his elbow, sharing setup duties with veterans Nicasio and Vincent. Diaz will handle the closing duties, while Rzepczynski and Pazos are the lefty tandem and Lawrence and LeBlanc can work as long men or even spot starters if needed.

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

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