"It will be a tough decision and we haven't made it yet," said manager John McLaren prior to Friday night's series opener at Safeco Field. "We talked about it last night and again today and I know if we're there yet. We're still talking."
The Mariners currently have a 12-man pitching staff after going the first two weeks of the regular season with 11 pitchers. They probably will stay with a dozen hurlers, which would seem to suggest that either Cha Seung Baek or Roy Corcoran could be the leading candidates to be sent to the Minor Leagues.
Baek has been on the roster since Opening Day, primarily because he is out of options and must clear waivers to be sent to the Minors. However, he also has been used less than any other pitcher this season -- three times.
"He's our long guy and like an insurance policy," McLaren said. "We just haven't had a chance to use him. Once we get past the fifth inning, we have everyone slotted and he's pretty much the odd-man out.
"It isn't anything he hasn't done," McLaren added, "we just haven't needed him."
But they needed him Friday after starter Miguel Batista departed one batter into the second inning because of a mild groin strain on his right side.
Baek performed well, holding the Athletics to one run during his first outing since April 13. He might have secured a spot on the staff, although that could be determined after Batista is further examined on Saturday.
If the injury is serious, Batista could go on the 15-day DL, Baek could stay and right-hander R.A. Dickey could return from Triple-A Tacoma.
As it is, the Mariners starters have logged so many innings the past two weeks that Baek has been a quiet spectator.
"It is tough, and boring," Baek said of his inactivity. "But it's a long season."
Baek has given some thought to what might happen on Saturday when Bedard is activated.
"It has entered my mind, but it is their decision and I don't care," he said. "If they need me here, OK. But if they want me to go, that's OK, too. We'll see what happens."
Corcoran, meanwhile, has provided some quality relief since joining the team on April 2, when closer J.J. Putz went on the 15-day DL with an injury in his right rib cage area.
The right-hander has surrendered runs in just two of his eight appearances and sports a 1.69 ERA.
Bedard returns to action following his second bout with inflammation in his right hip. He missed what was supposed to be his second start of the season against the Orioles, faced the Rays three days later, instead, and then suffered a recurrence of the ailment and was placed on the DL.
SEA: LHP Erik Bedard (1-0, 3.27 ERA)
The left-hander is well rested, having last pitched on April 8 against the Rays in St. Petersburg. He has yet to show the team or fans the kind of stuff that enabled him to strike out 221 batters last season with the Orioles. He has fanned seven and walked four in his two starts, covering 11 innings. Bedard had a 1-2 record against the Athletics last season, striking out 25 batters in 18 2/3 innings.
OAK: RHP Justin Duchscherer (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
Just like his pitching counterpart Bedard, Duchsherer comes off the 15-day DL prior to the game, having recovered from a strained right biceps. He made one rehab start in the Minor Leagues, and was not particularly impressive, surrendering five hits and two runs in 2 2/3 innings. His last big league start was on April 4, when he beat the Indians. That was his first start since Sept. 23, 2003, against the Mariners and his first win as a starter since Sept. 9, 2003. He has a 0-4 record and 4.24 ERA in 29 career appearances.
Another hefty crowd is expected for the second game of the three-game series. The opener drew 40,845, the first time since Opening Day, when 46,334 turned out, that the 40,000-mark was reached. As of Friday night, nearly 12,000 tickets for Saturday night's game were available. ... The four hits by second baseman Jose Lopez Friday night matched his career high. It was the fourth time he's had four hits in a game, the most recent being June 3, 2007, against the Rangers. ... The one-plus inning outing by Miguel Batista Friday night was his shortest since June 28, 1999, when he was with the Expos. ... Ichiro Suzuki has reached base in the first inning four consecutive games.
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Official game notes
Sunday: Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 2-0, 1.67) vs. Athletics (Joe Blanton, 1-4, 4.32), 1:10 p.m. PT
Tuesday: Mariners (Carlos Silva, 3-0, 2.83) at Indians (Fausto Carmona, 3-1, 2.89), 4:05 p.m. PT