As expected, the Mariners placed RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker and Stephen Pryor on the 15-day disabled list Saturday in order to reach the 25-man roster limit mandated by Opening Day. The Mariners will begin the regular season Monday night in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. Following a three-game series there, Seattle plays four at Oakland before returning to Safeco Field for the home opener April 8.
All three moves are retroactive to March 21.
Iwakuma went on the disabled list with a torn extensor tendon in his right middle finger. He has not appeared in a game this spring, but has been cleared to begin a full throwing program.
Walker was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement. He has pitched in minor league intrasquad games, but did not appear in an “A” game this spring.
Pryor was placed on the disabled list while recovering from surgery to repair a torn latisimus dorsi tendon in his right shoulder. He has not appeared in an “A” game this spring, but also pitched in minor league intrasquad games.
The roster moves leave the Mariners with 25 players in their major league camp. The positional breakdown:
With Iwakuma and Walker shelved, the Mariners will start the season with a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Roenis Elias and Chris Young.
1. Felix Hernandez: King Felix worked himself into the Cy Young mix last July when he reeled off six consecutive victories to improve to 11-4, 2.43. But he dropped six of his final seven decisions to finish 12-10, 3.04 and wound up eighth in the voting behind Iwakuma. Despite his late-season fade, Hernandez posted his sixth consecutive season with 200.0-plus innings pitched, joining Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer as the only pitchers in club history to accomplish that feat, and his fifth straight season with 200 or more strikeouts. Hernandez had a typical (for him) spring, going 2-0 with a 4.74 ERA in four starts covering 13.1 innings with 13 strikeouts, three walks, a .250 opponent average and 1.20 WHIP.
2. Erasmo Ramirez: The 23-year-old Nicaraguan put up the best numbers of any Seattle starter this spring, going 3-0 in six appearances (five starts) with a 1.14 ERA, .212 opponent average and 0.85 WHIP. Ramirez worked 72.1 innings for the Mariners last year covering 13 starts. He went 5-3 with a 4.98 ERA.
3. James Paxton: The 24-year-old Paxton made his MLB debut Sept. 7 at Tampa Bay, allowing four hits over 6.0 innings to record his first major league win. In three subsequent starts to end the year, Paxton went 2-0 and finished with a 1.50 ERA. He had a 3.18 over five spring starts.
4. Roenis Elias: A non-roster invitee who defected from Cuba in 2010, Elias earned a spot in Seattle’s tattered rotation in part by going 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA covering 22.2 innings this spring, but largely because Walker is recovering from an injury. Elias will be attempting to make the jump from AA Jackson, where he went 6-11, 3.18 last year. Brandon Mauer tried to make the same AA-to-MLB leap last year and couldn’t do it.
5. Chris Young: Released early last week by the Washington Nationals, the 6-foot-10, 34-year-old right hander hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 after undergoing shoulder surgery. He had a 3.48 ERA in 10.1 innings this spring before the Nationals released him.