BY John Hickey 05:48PM 03/31/2011

League the Mariner closer – on Friday, anyway

Manager Eric Wedge doesn’t want to define the role to just one pitcher until David Aardsma is back from stint on the disabled list.

Brandon League - Seattle Mariners - 2010 - 2

Brandon League gets the Opening Night call as the Mariner closer. / Ben Van Houten / Mariners

OAKLAND – For Opening Night, Brandon League is the Mariners’ closer.

After that, well, it’s unclear.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge said League would be his ninth-inning guy before the Mariners took the field Thursday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum for a workout that lasted just shy of two hours.

But League, who was 6-for-12 in save tries last year, isn’t Wedge’s only candidate for the job. Chris Ray, who had 33 saves for the Orioles back in 2006, is healthy again and has the most experience at shutting things down.

And then there is League’s versatility. He can pitch a couple of innings, if needed. Which means he could be asked to pull a Mariano Rivera from time to time and get a four- or five-out save. If so, he would likely need the next night off, leaving the closer door wide open.

So it seems that League is the Opening Night closer Friday against the A’s. Saturday is anybody’s guess.

“I learned from last year that you have to be ready for anything,’’ League said after the announcement was made. “He’s the manager. I’ll do what he wants.’’

League was the setup man for closer David Aardsma last year at this time. With Aardsma starting the season on the disabled list, League will step in. But so will Ray, Wedge suggested.

“It’s not necessarily a day-by-day thing,’’ Wedge said. “Initially that’s how we’re going to start off. I’m not sure how it will play out. Ray has probably the most experience in that role. A lot is going to depend on how we use League. It might be different as we go along.

“I really didn’t want to define (the role). We’ll just see how it plays out. We just need to get people into roles and see how it goes. Those roles will evolve from time to time. I know that I’m comfortable bringing League in in the eighth inning.

“Uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing.’’

Wedge also said that he will go with Ryan Langerhans as his Opening Night center fielder over Michael Saunders. Saunders made a bit of a late charge to finish the spring with a .286 average with a couple of home runs, but Langerhans had an impressive spring start to finish, hitting .316 with a couple of homers and nine RBIs.

“Langerhans had a nice camp for us,’’ Wedge said. “We have had Langerhans and Saunders in center for us, and Michael will be in center field some, too. We’ll do this for opening day and go from there.

“You have to recognize the camp (Langerhans) had – the bat he had, the way he ran the bases, that he plays an aggressive center field.’’

NOTES: Aardsma threw off a mound in the bullpen, his second full bullpen session of 2011. He is on a slow return from left hip surgery. He doesn’t figure to be back before May. … Wedge said that much of the Mariners’ offensive success will be not only on the men batting behind the top two men in the Seattle lineup, Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins, but on the “men batting in front of them. We need to do a better job there.’’ Right now, shortstop Brendan Ryan and second baseman Jack Wilson will get that call, batting eighth and ninth, respectively.

Twitter: @JHickey3