Kawasaki's role with Mariners evolving

Kawasaki's role with Mariners evolving

TOKYO -- Eight-time Japanese All-Star shortstop Munenori Kawasaki has been a center of much attention this week as one of the Mariners' new players. So naturally, manager Eric Wedge was asked by the Japanese media before Wednesday's game if they'll see the charismatic 30-year-old play in the first two regular-season contests.

Kawasaki has made the Mariners' initial 28-man roster and seems a lock to land a full-time spot when the 25-man group is finalized before the April 6 opener in Oakland. But exactly how he'll be used remains to be seen as he figures to fill a utility infield role.

Wedge said "there's always that possibility" that Kawasaki could play in Tokyo, but acknowledged that the starters figure to get the primary playing time this early in the year.

"The difficult thing early on in the season, when you've got your regulars in there, at least initially, you need to get into the routine and the rotation the way you're getting everybody in there," Wedge said. "So that will be the struggle over the course of this couple of days.

"But he'll be available for us late if we need him to pinch-run or potentially go out and play for us defensively, or whatever it may be. I still haven't locked and loaded on what the starting lineup's going to be for [Thursday]. He's done a great job for us, and he's going to get his share of playing time as we get into the regular season."