Reed to Minors in Mariners' latest cuts

Reed to Minors in Mariners' latest cuts

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Outfielder Jeremy Reed, the Mariners' starting center fielder on Opening Day the past two seasons, will open this season in the Minor Leagues.

Reed was among the Mariners' roster cuts on Wednesday morning, sent to Triple-A Tacoma, along with right-handed pitcher Sean Green, left-hander Eric O'Flaherty and catcher Rene Rivera. Veteran right-hander Aaron Small was reassigned to Minor League camp.

The latest batch of roster moves leaves Seattle with 33 players in big-league camp, including six non-roster invitees. It appears that at least three and possibly four of the invitees will be on the Mariners' Opening Day roster -- catcher Jamie Burke, a 35-year-old who has never been with a Major League team on Opening Day; lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes and right-hander Brandon Morrow.

Infielder Rey Ordonez also has a good shot of opening the season at Safeco Field on Monday.

Mariners manager Mike Hargrove plans to begin the season with a 12-man pitching staff. The biggest surprise would be Morrow, the club's first-round pick out of the University of California in last June's First-Year Player Draft.

Morrow, who has 13 professional innings under his belt, has been the star of the pitching show this spring, allowing one earned run over 8 1/3 innings.

Reed's demotion was the most surprising of Wednesday's moves.

Acquired from the Chicago White Sox along with catcher Miguel Olivo and Minor League infielder Mike Morse on June 27, 2004, for right-handed starter Freddy Garcia, catcher Ben Davis and cash, Reed batted .397 for Seattle during a late-season callup from Triple-A Tacoma.

"That's the bad side of this job, having to do this, especially this time of spring," manager Mike Hargove said. "[Cutting] Jeremy was one of the toughet ones I've ever had to do. It was not fun, but we all felt it was the right thing to do."

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He played in 141 games for the Mariners in 2005, batting .254 with three home runs and 45 RBIs, and he was the regular center fielder in '06 as well. He broke his right thumb on July 3, however, after diving for a ball in right-center field and underwent surgery three days later.

Reed spent the remainder of the season on the disabled list, finishing the season with a .217 batting average, six home runs and 17 RBIs. More importantly, Ichiro Suzuki volunteered to switch from right field to center field for this season, and that left Reed as a backup.

Reed appeared in 21 Cactus League games this spring, going 15-for-63 (.238) with no home runs and six RBIs.

Small, who won his first 10 decisions with the Yankees in 2005, was signed as a Minor League free agent on Jan. 2. He appeared in three games this spring, allowing five earned runs in four innings.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.