SEATTLE -- The Mariners made room for Cliff Lee on their roster by pulling a bit of a surprise.
The club optioned right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley, who had been one of the major bright spots in the bullpen in 2009 and who had put up a 2.57 ERA in seven appearances this season, to Triple-A Tacoma.
But with the rest of the arms in the Seattle bullpen either being out of Minor League options or, in the case of Kanekoa Texeira, a Rule 5 Draft pick that would have to be returned to the Yankees if taken off the 25-man roster, it came down to the basic reality that the Mariners don't want to designate any of their relievers for assignment. They don't want to run the risk of losing them via the waiver wire -- even righty Jesus Colome, who made the team as a non-roster invitee and hasn't pitched since April 18, a span of 10 games.
"It's a tough business," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "All of us up here didn't particularly want to make that move because we felt he was pitching better and better, but the same fact is that he's pitching one out of five or every six days, so this time, it will benefit him to go down and get some work and continue his progression.
"You look at his last outing in Kansas City and you look at his velocity, up to 94, 95 mph. I thought his slider was better and he threw a couple nice changeups, so he'll be part of our organization as we move forward and continue to help us. Just right now, it was the right move."
Snell heads for Mariners' bullpen
SEATTLE -- As expected, right-hander Ian Snell was moved to the bullpen as part of the series of moves resulting from the activation of starter Cliff Lee from the 15-day disabled list.
And as manager Don Wakamatsu explained, it was more about how well Jason Vargas (2-1, 3.60 ERA) and Doug Fister (2-1, 1.67) have pitched than how inconsistent Snell might have been.
Snell's last start, a 5 1/3-inning, two-earned-run effort in Kansas City on Tuesday, was one of his better starts in what, so far, has been an up-and-down beginning to the season. Snell is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA and 11 walks and 12 strikeouts in 19 innings.
"You go into Kansas City to try to figure out the move, and to me, Ian showed the best stuff that he's had all year," Wakamatsu said. "He's progressing that way, and a lot of players look at everything as final, but we're not looking at it as final.
"We have to make some adjustments as we go, and we called him in today and told him he was in the bullpen, and he was fine. Again, throwing 94, 95 mph, throwing a hard slider and competing, it was everything we asked him to do last start, but there's some guys in the rotation right now that are pitching well, and we feel deserve to be in it."
Wakamatsu said the club will see how Snell fares in his first outing, but would like to keep the right-hander "extended as much as we can." Then again, if the Seattle starters continue to shine and a long reliever isn't needed, the skipper said he could see a scenario in which Snell would go "from a long [reliever] to an eighth-inning guy."
Bedard throws another bullpen session
SEATTLE -- Erik Bedard got back on the mound Friday, throwing a bullpen session of between 50 and 60 pitches after being set back for four days when he developed a stiff neck on the road trip to Chicago and Kansas City.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said the team wasn't sure when Bedard would be ready to pitch a simulated game, which would be the first step toward getting the lefty onto a Minor League rehab schedule.
Sweeney visits Seahawks practice
SEATTLE -- Designated hitter Mike Sweeney made a trip to the Seattle Seahawks' opening day of minicamp Friday, spending time with first-year head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Sweeney was invited out through a mutual friend he shares with Carroll, whom he'd met previously while playing with the Oakland A's.
"He's a class act," Sweeney said of Carroll. "What a great leader and a great motivator. Hopefully, Seattle, this great sports town, will be winning again."
Sweeney said he has followed Southern Cal football -- Carroll's previous gig -- since childhood, and he plans to invite Carroll and Hasselbeck to Safeco Field for batting practice once minicamp ends.
Ken Griffey Jr. and Matt Tuiasosopo had planned to join him but couldn't make it, so he brought along his son, Michael, who left with a team football.
Hannahan reinstated, optioned to Tacoma
SEATTLE -- The Mariners on Friday announced that infielder Jack Hannahan has returned from his injury rehabilitation assignment, been reinstated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
Hannahan, who strained his right groin in Spring Training and was placed on the DL on March 31, was sent to Tacoma to begin his rehab assignment on April 16, and is hitting .214 (6-for-28) with two home runs and eight RBIs in seven games with the Rainiers.
Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said Jason Vargas, Cliff Lee and Ryan Rowland-Smith would be the Mariners' three starters in the home series against the Tampa Bay Rays from May 4-6. ... First baseman Casey Kotchman has played 205 consecutive games without committing an error. He's the second first baseman in Major League history to surpass 200 straight contests without a blunder, trailing only Kevin Youkilis' MLB record 238-game streak for Boston from 2006-08.
Doug Miller is a reporter and Mike McCall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.