SEATTLE -- Mike Carp will soon be pounding on the door, and the Mariners are going to have to make room for him to come back in.
The man who began the regular season in Tokyo as Seattle's starting left fielder -- and went down with a sprained right shoulder on Opening Day -- spent his second night on a rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma and is already eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. This means manager Eric Wedge will have a big decision to make soon.
Carp, who hit .276 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs in 79 games last year, figures to have a spot in the lineup guaranteed upon his return. So the Mariners could decide between infielder Alex Liddi and outfielder Casper Wells as to whom is sent down to the Minors to make room for Carp. Both have Minor League options remaining.
Another decision will loom regarding the return of everyday center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who's on the DL with a partially torn right pectoral muscle. But that call will probably not have to be made for several weeks at the earliest.
Liddi and Wells, who both got starting nods in Saturday evening's game against Oakland, said they weren't thinking about what might transpire when Carp comes back.
"Now that I'm here, I'm just trying to help the team," said Liddi, who had two hits in five at-bats in two games prior to Saturday. "Whatever happens is not in my hands, so I'm just going to try to help the team as much as I can. Whatever happens is not up to me."
Wells, who had four at-bats in three games before Saturday's start, echoed those sentiments, saying he wouldn't feel any pressure to show what he can do in the course of one game.
"Not at all," Wells said. "Just take care of whatever business for that day I have to take care of. Hope everything falls into place. That's nothing that I think about."
Wedge said he preferred to look at the upcoming decision as a positive development that indicates a talented team and increasingly deep organization.
"We're going to keep the guys up here [who] we feel like [give] us the best chance to win ballgames, and the ones that stay up here are going to be because they continue to do that," Wedge said. "It's that simple. So as we get further into this, we're going to start stacking different areas of our club up a little bit, different positions. That's a good sign."