PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners are intrigued by the right-handed bat of Stefen Romero, but finding playing time for the young outfielder could be problematic if he makes the 25-man roster. So manager Lloyd McClendon said Romero will begin doing some infield work this week to increase his versatility.
Romero, 25, played the outfield last year for Triple-A Tacoma and hit .277 with 11 homers and 74 RBIs while playing just 93 games after missing the start of the season with a strained oblique. He's in the mix for an outfield job this spring, but is fighting the numbers game with Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Abraham Almonte and Corey Hart expected to garner roster spots.
So, if Romero makes the club as a fifth outfielder, his value would increase if he could fill in at designated hitter or in the infield as well. He came up as a second baseman out of Oregon State and has played some third base as well. The Mariners have Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager in those spots, but depth can help and Romero will start taking ground balls in the infield later this week.
"He's a converted infielder," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Our plan was [Saturday] to start getting him some infield work, but he took sick with a stomach virus and he's been out the last two days. Hopefully this next week we start getting him some groundballs and see where he is."
Romero started the spring on an 0-for-16 stretch, but has since gone 9-for-19 with two homers, two triples and two doubles to raise his Cactus League average to .257 with a .600 slugging percentage.
"As we sit now and try to make up this club and see what fits and who complements who, we need guys that are versatile and are able to do more than one thing on the field," McClendon said. "We need to find out about this young man as well."