SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Veteran pitchers Arthur Rhodes and Chris Reitsma, both signed to Minor League contracts, were told Wednesday they would not be on the Mariners' roster when the season opens.

Both hurlers are coming off elbow surgeries. Rhodes, a 38-year-old left-hander, did not pitch last season after undergoing ligament replacement surgery on May 2, 2007. Reitsma, a 30-year-old right-hander, was limited to 23 2/3 innings last season before needing elbow surgery.

"As much as I like them, I think we had to do it this way," Mariners manager John McLaren said. "We were very honest with them, and we had an open discussion going back and forth. It wasn't an easy conversation, but it's something you had to do."

McLaren said Rhodes plans to remain with the club, and the Mariners likely will take him to Las Vegas this weekend for a two-game series against the Cubs. Rhodes then would maintain his throwing program in the Minors.

"Chris is going to go home and think about it," McLaren said. "He's not sure what he wants to do right now. We're hopeful that he does think about continuing his throwing program."

While the manager said, "We're not making any promises," he hinted both could be in the Mariners' plans before the season ends if they make progress in their throwing programs.

Rhodes had allowed just two hits and no runs while striking out six in 3 2/3 innings in four spring relief appearances. Reitsma had a 9.00 ERA in four outings, allowing 11 hits and five runs in five innings. He had permitted four runs and eight hits in three innings his past two outings.

"The reason for this is those guys have not pitched back-to-back days," McLaren said. "We don't want to put ourselves in a situation where we have too many pitchers that we really have to take extra caution with and paint ourselves into a corner.

"We kind of got into a situation like that last year. We're looking at the big picture. It's not only for the benefit of the player, but definitely us, too. I don't look at this as a negative, myself, but a positive. We've got these guys getting ready.

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"The way Rhodes is throwing the ball right now, he's throwing the ball as well as I've ever seen him. They are both throwing the ball well. Arthur offers a veteran presence, a guy who has been there and done that. We could have used that, last year especially when we were going through some bad stretches. Having him in the bullpen makes you feel good."

In other moves, the Mariners assigned right-hander Roy Corcoran and infielder Tug Hulett, both non-roster invitees, to the Minor League camp.

Corcoran, who was 0-1 with an 11.12 ERA in six relief appearances in 2006 with the Nationals, was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in five Spring Training games. Hulett, who was acquired from the Rangers in a December trade for Ben Broussard, hit .280 in 16 Cactus League games.

Will the Mariners be down to the 25-man roster limit on Thursday before leaving Arizona?

"I would say probably not, but close," McLaren said.