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Mariners set Opening Day roster; fans set jaws

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No Kyle Lewis, no problem! [taps earpiece] I’m being told that is actually a very big problem

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

We’re mere hours from Opening Day at T-Mobile Park, and the Mariners have announced their Opening Day roster:

You see that teeny-tiny little asterisk next to Kyle Lewis’s name? That is a bad asterisk. It’s a badsterisk. Because earlier today in a media call, Scott Servais said Kyle Lewis will begin the season on the IL, as the deep bone bruise he sustained on his surgically repaired right knee hasn’t responded to treatment. Servais said Lewis would be out “weeks” rather than days, which is a huge bummer for Lewis and for fans who were looking forward to seeing the reigning AL ROY take the field.

But! When one door closes another opens, and this year that door will open to Taylor Trammell, making his professional debut as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Jake Fraley also makes the roster and figures to get playing time in left. One gets the sense that the Mariners will use the time during Lewis’s injury timeout to assess both Trammell and Fraley and pick who gets to stay in Seattle, which should make for a fun position battle as each guy tries to play his way into regular playing time in Seattle.

Speaking of battles, Justin Dunn won the sixth starter spot out of camp, but Nick MoreCabbages Margevicius is right there in the bullpen, ready to step in if need be. That’s a little bit of a change from what we were hearing earlier in camp, which was that the loser of the sixth starter spot battle would go to Tacoma to get in regular work there. With the minor league season pushed back and starters still building up to full workloads, it makes sense right now to have as many arms on deck as possible, but we’ll see how that situation develops over the first few weeks of the season.

There aren’t too many other surprises in the roster; the addition of Drew Steckenrider, who was signed on a minor-league deal earlier in the off-season might surprise some people who haven’t been following spring training as closely. Steckenrider, or Steckasaurus, was a one-time closer for the Marlins who struggled to stay healthy, suffering both from elbow inflammation and triceps tendonitis while attempting to secure a big-league role with Miami. This spring with the Mariners, a finally-healthy Steckenrider worked on harnessing his command (four walks in seven innings!) after a long layoff, but also showed the strikeout stuff that made him a weapon out of the bullpen for the Marlins (nine strikeouts in seven innings!). Rule 5 pick Will Vest also made the team after a strong finish to his spring.

The Mariners also announced their alternate site roster:

If you’re confused about the purpose of the Alternate Site, you’re not alone, especially since the Alternate Site for the Mariners...is T-Mobile Park. It’s like the Mariners Triple-A roster but without any of the prospects who would likely be at Triple-A like Gilbert, Raleigh, and Kelenic, who will all apparently remain in Peoria for minor-league spring training, which is starting up this week. Since there’s no minor league games at this time, this serves like the player pool from last season (“break glass in case of COVID outbreaks”), and the proximity to the major-league team allows for more oversight with health and safety protocols and testing. So like, if Casey Sadler stubs his toe, Eric Swanson can swoop right in without having to go through a lengthy quarantine process. Think of these players like your major league understudies, but in a nice clean bubble instead of a germ-ridden grotty Triple-A clubhouse.