PEORIA, Ariz. — Lloyd McClendon rubbed his hands over his head and exhaled. It was done. The decisions were made. He’d had the difficult conversations with players who had been cut. He had the pleasure of telling a few players they made the team. He got all that done before noon on Friday.
The Mariners’ roster for opening day on Monday in Anaheim was officially set.
“There’s clarity,” McClendon said. “I have my team. It’s good. I had an opportunity to address my team for the first time today. It’s nice to have everything behind us.”
In the last week, the basic shape of the Mariners’ 25-man roster had formed. It was easy to presume about 90 percent of it. Yet, McClendon wouldn’t budge when it came to announcing the starting rotation, slots in the bullpen, the outfield spots or even the starting shortstop.
With the roster finalized, he was able to speak freely about the decisions made.
He confirmed what everyone had already assumed – Brad Miller would be the starting shortstop. It became clear almost two weeks ago that Miller was pulling away from Nick Franklin in the race for the job.
“They both played extremely well,” McClendon said. “Brad separated himself. I’d be a fool if I told you he didn’t. I think we all saw it.”
Franklin was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma along with pitchers Brandon Maurer, Blake Beavan and Lucas Luetge. After Franklin played a few innings of outfield on Tuesday, the question of what position he would play with the Rainiers had to be asked.
“He will play shortstop predominantly,” McClendon responded.
Will he play any outfield?
“He might play some outfield,” McClendon said.
The need for Franklin to play every day was the logic in sending him to Tacoma.
“He’s got to play,” McClendon said. “The numbers are what they are.”
Franklin going to Tacoma also meant that Stefen Romero made the team as the fourth outfielder. It will allow McClendon to mix and match a little with four full-time outfielders.
“I’ll use him just like I used him this spring — outfield with a little bit of first base and maybe pinch-hitting in some big situations,” McClendon said.
Beavan being optioned to Tacoma meant that recently signed pitcher Chris Young would be in the rotation. McClendon said Young will serve as the No. 5 starter. The rotation begins with Felix Hernandez as the No. 1, followed by Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Roenis Elias and Young.
Young threw a bullpen session Thursday and was scheduled to start Saturday’s Cactus League finale in Scottsdale against Colorado.
“He’s a veteran guy and he knows how to pitch,” McClendon said. “He creates angles because he’s so tall (6 feet 10). If he has those proper angles, he has a chance to be successful, particularly in Safeco.”
Young said he’s healthy, which is something he hasn’t been for a long time.
“Everything feels great,” he said. “I’ve had a healthy, uneventful spring. The last five years have been a constant struggle of shoulder issues.”
But it wasn’t the shoulder causing the problem. It was a nerve issue that he had corrective surgery for last June.
“Since then I have been 100 percent pain-free,” he said.
Elias will be making the jump from Class AA to the big leagues. His rise to the rotation this spring has been a surprise story. McClendon enjoyed telling the 25-year-old Cuban defector he’d made the team.
“He was very happy,” McClendon said. “I didn’t understand everything he said because most of it was in Spanish. But I think in the end he tried to kiss me.”
The bullpen situation has also been solidified. Hector Noesi earned the long-relief job over Zach Miner, while Joe Beimel beat out Luetge for the other lefty specialist spot.
The Mariners, who open the season Monday in Anaheim against the Angels, have set their 25-man roster.
34 Felix Hernandez, RHP
65 James Paxton, LHP
50 Erasmo Ramirez, RHP
81 Roenis Elias, LHP
53 Chris Young, RHP
56 Fernando Rodney, RHP
41 Charlie Furbush, LHP
54 Tom Wilhelmsen, RHP
40 Danny Farquhar, RHP
31 Yoervis Medina, RHP
97 Joe Beimel, LHP
45 Hector Noesi, RHP
3 Mike Zunino
4 John Buck
17 Justin Smoak, 1B
22 Robinson Cano, 2B
15 Kyle Seager, 3B
5 Brad Miller, SS
20 Logan Morrison, 1B/OF
8 Willie Bloomquist, UTIL
13 Dustin Ackley, LF
36 Abraham Almonte, CF
55 Michael Saunders, RF
27 Corey Hart, DH/OF/1B
7 Stefen Romero, OF
No. Disabled list
18 Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP
32 Taijuan Walker, RHP
46 Stephen Pryor, RHP