Superstar swap: Griffey could man right
Seattle skipper mulling moving veteran in Ichiro's absence
LAS VEGAS -- It will be at least one more day before the Mariners decide how they'll replace Ichiro Suzuki in right field for at least the first eight games of the regular season, but Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the options being considered by manager Don Wakamatsu.Wakamatsu said Griffey would definitely be in the Mariners' Opening Night lineup against the Twins on Monday night in Minneapolis. "Yes, he could play right," Wakamatsu said prior to Friday night's game against the Rockies. "We discussed that inside [the clubhouse] just a little while ago. There might be a possibility of him playing right, although tomorrow he is playing in left. "He is open to doing anything we want, and he has said that from day one." Griffey has divided his playing time this spring between left field and designated hitter. But he has played mostly right field for the past two seasons, and he could return to that position for some of the games Ichiro will miss while he's on the 15-day disabled list. Ichiro was placed on the DL Friday morning after being diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. He will be eligible to return to action April 15, for the Mariners' second home game of the season. Wakamatsu said the key factors helping Griffey's case to play right field for at least part of the four-game series against the Twins are: "The smaller baggy in right, and the fact he played [right field] the last two years." Wladimir Balentien, who has played all three outfield positions, would be another option -- if he's on the 25-man roster. That hasn't been determined, but the roster will soon be finalized. "With all the roster moves and everything, and in fairness to the guys traveling with us and ... in the running for making this club," Wakamatsu said, "we are going to announce it [the final roster] tomorrow afternoon after the game.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.