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.
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.
"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."
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.
The optimal situation is to keep the best 25 players in camp. That rarely happens.
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.
"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."
"Don’t think, just play," Olson said.