Gabe Gross joins growing list of outfield candidates

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Veteran outfielder Gabe Gross hits against the Mariners last year at Safeco Field. (Photo by Getty Images/Otto Gruele Jr.)

The Mariners added Gabe Gross, another veteran outfielder, to the large group of contenders being stockpiled at that position heading toward Spring Training.

Gross, 31, is a seven-year vet that Jack Zduriencik knows well from his two-plus seasons with the Brewers in 2006-08.

Gross was signed to a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite, so this is another of the low- or no-risk signees being brought in to see what he might bring to the table, much like Jody Gerut.

The club also has outfielders Ryan Langerhans and Mike Wilson on non-roster invitations, along with the seven outfielders on their 40-man roster: Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, Milton Bradley and Michael Saunders, plus top prospects Greg Halman, Johermyn Chavez and Carlos Peguero.

Gross, 31, is a lefty hitter who batted .239 with one home run and 25 RBIs in 105 games with Oakland last year. His career numbers are .239/.330/.385 with 40 home runs and 186 RBIs.

Gross was a starting quarterback for seven games at Auburn University before deciding to focus on baseball only after losing his starting job midway through his sophomore season. He went on to become a No. 1 draft pick, 15th overall, of the Blue Jays in 2001.

He’s regarded as an excellent clubhouse guy and leader type, though he’s been mostly a part-time role player through his seven seasons in the Majors and it remains to be seen how he’ll fit into the crowded competition with the Mariners.

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