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Classic muddles Mariners' Winter Ball planning

Classic muddles Mariners' Winter Ball planning

Classic muddles Mariners' Winter Ball planning
ANAHEIM -- The Mariners are still deciding which of their players should play Winter Ball, a decision complicated this offseason by the World Baseball Classic.

Some of the Mariners have played in the Classic in the past, including Felix Hernandez in 2009 for Venezuela, and that tournament runs into March for countries that reach the finals.

Alex Liddi played for Italy, Miguel Olivo played for the Dominican Republic and Hisashi Iwakuma and Munenori Kawasaki were members of champion Team Japan in 2009, while some of the younger Mariners, such as Canadian Michael Saunders and Nicaraguan Erasmo Ramirez, could certainly be considered for their national teams this year.

Olivo, Iwakuma and Kawasaki are all free agents, but the Mariners will consult with players under their control about their plans for the Classic as well as Winter Ball.

"The biggest thing for me is pitching and making sure we handle that the right way, whether we want them to play at all, or play early or late," manager Eric Wedge said. "Then we have to factor in the whole WBC thing. That's the X-factor. So we're still working through it."

Hernandez is an interesting case, given he's just finishing up his fifth straight season of 200-plus innings for the Mariners and obviously is a huge part of their plans for the future.

"The thing about it is, it's somewhat of a personal decision," Wedge said. "You can give suggestions or opinions, but ultimately they've got to be included in that process, for sure."

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