It’s coming down to roster decision time

Back at it today in Peoria and things haven’t changed a whole lot while I was away for a couple days. Jon Garland is gone, Endy Chavez is here. And the Mariners have four more Cactus League games and an exhibition in Salt Lake City before opening the season in Oakland on April 1.

Brandon Maurer gets the start today at 1:05 p.m. against the Reds’ Homer Bailey in Goodyear. Maurer clearly is in the hunt for a rotation spot and, in fact, is tentatively scheduled to make the start in the final preseason game in Salt Lake City as well.

The rest of the rotation this week: Jeremy Bonderman starts on Tuesday against the Royals in Peoria, Felix Hernandez makes his final spring start Wednesday against the Dodgers in Peoria and then Hisashi Iwakuma goes Thursday against the Cubs in Mesa.

Erasmo Ramirez will pitch out of the bullpen on Wednesday and it’s just a hunch, but I’m starting to sense he might be a contender for a relief role coming out of camp despite much speculation that he’s strictly a starter.

Still a few roster decisions to come this week. Besides the final two rotation berths coming down to Blake Beavan, Maurer, Ramirez and Bonderman, the final outfield choice between Jason Bay and Casper Wells is due.

And the bullpen is always a place where a surprise or two can emerge. Consider Ramirez my surprise candidate there.

Meanwhile, here is today’s lineup:

Michael Saunders CF
Robert Andino 3B
Raul Ibanez DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Kyle Seager 2B
Jesus Montero C
Jason Bay RF
Casper Wells LF
Brendan Ryan SS

Brandon Maurer P

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