3/29/2014 2:46 P.M. ET
Making the roster an emotional moment for Romero
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- For Stefen Romero, the words from Lloyd McClendon will forever be etched in his memory.
Called into the skipper's office Friday afternoon, Romero learned that he was part of the Mariners' 25-man roster heading into Monday's regular-season opener in Anaheim. And the 25-year-old outfielder suddenly felt a flood of emotions as one of his lifelong goals was realized.
"Speechless. Just goosebumps," Romero said. "He just said, 'Hey, I'm happy to say that I'll be your first big league manager.' When he said that, I got the chills and immediately my mind went back to my grandfather, who passed away two years ago in 2011.
"He's been my biggest influence playing baseball," said Romero. "He's been my No. 1 supporter and went to every single one of my games growing up. I got a little bit emotional, just thinking back and wishing he could have seen me play now. I know he's looking down and it's really an emotional time for me and my family. At the same time, I'm ecstatic."
The former Oregon State standout was the Mariners' Minor League Player of the Year in 2012 after putting up big numbers at Class A Advanced High Desert and Double-A Jackson, then hit .277 with 11 home runs and 74 RBIs in 93 games in 2013 after overcoming a strained oblique that delayed the start of his season.
McClendon likes Romero's right-handed bat and offensive potential and has played him both in the outfield and a little at first base the past week, looking for ways to get him opportunities as a backup candidate.
It remains to be seen how much Romero plays, but he knows this is a start to what he's been pursuing since his days growing up in Tucson, Ariz.
"It's awesome," he said. "It's every little kid's dream, getting to where you want to be. ... I want to keep going further in my career, but this is a really huge step and I'm just proud it's with the Mariners, the team that drafted me and gave me the opportunity."
As teammates went about the business of clearing out their lockers and preparing for the first road trip to Anaheim and Oakland, Romero was just soaking up the experience.
"It really hasn't hit me yet," he said. "I know when we stand out there for the opening ceremonies and seeing the fans standing up for the National Anthem, that's probably when it'll finally hit me, just awe. But right now, it's kind of hectic still playing spring games, trying to get everything packed up, trying to figure out all this travel and stuff.
"I'm new to everything. Guys are just packing like it's nothing. They know what to expect. I'm just going in there blind, pretty much. But this is an awesome experience."
Romero got off to an 0-for-16 start at the plate this spring, but hit .425 the rest of the way to finish at .304 (17-for-56) with three doubles, two triples, four home runs and 13 RBIs. He went 1-for-1 with two walks in Saturday's Cactus League finale against the Rockies.
Young pleased with his solid first impression
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- While the rest of the Mariners were putting the finishing touches on their spring in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Rockies, big right-hander Chris Young was introducing himself to his new club and gearing up as quickly as possible for his first Major League start since 2012.
Young threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his Mariners debut, allowing four hits with no walks and two strikeouts just two days after signing as a free agent following his release from the Nationals.
The 6-foot-10 veteran will slide into Seattle's rotation as the fifth starter, facing the A's on Friday in Oakland. So Saturday's outing was big for him on several fronts as he made his longest start of the spring after never going more than four innings for the Nationals before his release.
"You always want to make a good first impression, for sure," said Young, a 2007 National League All-Star with the Padres. "But today was also about getting my work in and getting the pitch count built up a little.
"I got into some situations where I had to make pitches and tried to treat it like a regular-season game because that's where I'm going to be next week. I did some things well and have some things I need to work on. But overall I feel confident with where I am, stuff-wise, performance-wise and health-wise. I'm excited for the season."
Young believes he's healthy for the first time in about five years after having surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve problem that was causing shoulder problems. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was pleased with his first outing.
"I thought he tired a little bit at the end, but I was pleased with what I saw," McClendon said. "He was the guy I remembered. He threw the ball extremely well."
Young got out of two second-and-third situations, striking out Carlos Gonzalez in the third and getting Corey Dickerson to line into a double play in the fourth.
"Obviously you don't want to be in those situations, but you're going to have to pitch through them," he said. "It's just realistic preparation for the season."
Young threw 63 pitches, then went to the bullpen and threw 15-20 more before heading to a workout room to ride a stationary bicycle for nearly a half hour.
"The preparation for my next start begins now," he said.
Mariners put Iwakuma, Walker, Pryor on DL
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- All-Star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker and hard-throwing reliever Stephen Pryor were all placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday by the Mariners, putting their roster at the final 25 heading into Monday's season opener in Anaheim.
All three moves are retroactive to March 21, meaning the three could technically return by the opening homestand on April 8 if they are ready. It's unlikely any of the three will be ready that soon, though Walker and Pryor both began throwing in Minor League games this past week.
Iwakuma, who was third in last year's American League Cy Young voting, was cleared by doctors on Friday to begin a normal throwing program as he begins to build his arm strength after missing all of camp with a torn extensor tendon in his right middle finger.
Iwakuma, 32, will accompany the team on the first road trip to Anaheim and Oakland so he can work with the team's trainers and begin throwing bullpen sessions after previously being limited to playing catch.
Walker, 21, was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement. He has pitched in Minor League intrasquad games, but did not appear in any Cactus League games after being shut down for a week at the start of March due to soreness that bothered him upon arrival at camp in early February.
Pryor, 24, was placed on the disabled list while recovering from surgery last August to repair a torn latissimus dorsi tendon in his right shoulder. He also has not appeared in any Cactus League games this spring, but pitched in Minor League intrasquad games.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said Walker will start the season on a rehab stint with Class A Advanced High Desert and Pryor will do the same with Double-A Jackson.
•With James Paxton and Roenis Elias both in the starting rotation, it will be the first time the Mariners have opened the season with two rookies in the rotation since 1993 with Mike Hampton and John Cummings.
• Monday night's opener in Anaheim will have a 7:12 p.m. PT first pitch and will be televised by both ESPN2 and ROOT Sports. Fans in Seattle can also attend an open house at Safeco Field, with the game being shown on the big screen. A $1 entrance fee will go to Northwest Harvest and all fans will receive a free True to the Blue T-shirt.