BY John Hickey 01:21AM 03/31/2011

Wedge holds off announcing his closer

Seattle skipper is waiting until the last minute to name a replacement for the injured David Aardsma.

Brandon League - Seattle Mariners - 2010 - 2

Brandon League is likely to be the Mariner closer, but no call has been made yet. / Ben Van Houten, Mariners

With the clock now down under 48 hours to the start of the Seattle Mariners’ 2011 season, manager Eric Wedge isn’t willing to name a closer.

If everything was normal, it wouldn’t be a problem. But there is a problem, because the Mariners are going to have to make do without closer David Aardsma for a month, probably longer, as the right-hander recovers from hip surgery.

Brandon League has generally been conceded the job of taking over for Aardsma, but when the Seattle media asked Wedge about that an hour or so before Wednesday’s spring finale against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Wedge listed three names, not just one.

Joining League on the list of Wedge’s closing candidates were two veteran right-handers, Chris Ray and Jamey Wright.

At one point Wedge said he and pitching coach Carl Willis hadn’t settled on one guy. But off the record Wedge told friends in the baseball community over a week ago that League would in fact get the call.

Wedge may wait until Thursday afternoon’s workout in the Oakland Coliseum before making a call on the closer. He did say that one of the reasons he hadn’t made the announcement was that he hadn’t told the pitchers in question, and he was going to be sure to do that before making any decision public.

Wedge has one more big call between now and the opener. He’s got to settle on a starter in center field to replace Franklin Gutierrez, who is on the disabled list. Michael Saunders is the probable guy, but Ryan Langerhans had a terrific final week or so of the spring, and that may have vaulted him in front of Saunders.

Twitter: @JHickey3


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