Mariners Insider

A week of high anxiety for the boys on the bubble

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on March 30, 2009 at 9:00 am with No Comments »
March 30, 2009 9:00 am


In five days, the Seattle Mainers will fly to Minneapolis to open their season. For more than a half dozen players, those days seem like a lifetime.

"I’ve been through this three years in a row, coming down to the final week with the chance to make a team," Chris Shelton said. "You’re lying if you say you don’t think about it – this is your livelihood."

Consider the options the Mariners still have in camp: Wladimir Balentien, Mike Morse, Shawn Kelley, Chris Jakubauskas, Cesar Jimenez, Shelton (pictured), Jamie Burke, Rob Johnson, Randy Messenger, Reegie Corona, Garrett Olson, Jesus Delgado.

Only a few of those players will make the opening day roster.

"It’s fun, it’s exciting," Jakubauskas said. "It’s human nature to think, ‘Can it happen for me this year?’ I’m starting the game tomorrow, and that’s all I can do. Spring training has been a blast, and being here the last few days of camp? Hard to ask for more."

Every spring, teams hope the final cuts are the toughest to make – it means there’s depth in the system. Still, there are teams that hand out jobs each year. And it doesn’t always come down to talent.

Balentien and Morse, for instance, are out of minor league options. If the Mariners don’t keep them on the roster, they can become free agents. Corona is a Rule 5 draft, and if he’s not on the roster, he must be offered back to the Yankees.

Right-hander Delgado, similarly, must be kept placed on waivers, making him available to another team.

The optimal situation is to keep the best 25 players in camp. That rarely happens.

The front office and the manager and coaching staff usually agree on most decisions, but general managers hate losing any player they like to a last-day decision.

At times, that overrides what a manager wants.

If Balentien makes the team, for instance, he’ll likely play only against left-handers, and then come out in the late innings for defense. That’s a tough role for a 24-year-old.

Given the chance, he’d snap at it.

"I was in the same situation the last week last spring," Balentien said. "I was like the last cut. All I can do is play hard."

What’s the best way to survive the final week, when you have no control over the ultimate decision?

"Don’t think, just play," Olson said.

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