Seattle Mariners: Trail native Jason Bay on inside track

It looks like 34-year-old Jason Bay may have the inside track on the final outfield position over a younger Casper Wells.

The Mariners open the regular season in less than a week — next Monday in Oakland — and still don’t have their starting pitcher rotation or their 25-man active roster set. It’s coming down to the wire.

Manager Eric Wedge told the Seattle Post Intelligencer Monday that he’d like to have the roster set before the M’s head to Salt Lake City on Saturday for their final spring game against the Colorado Rockies. And the biggest questions to answer are in the pitching rotation.

“We’re trying to go all the way. Part of my discipline is just being able to keep my mind open to the very end. And the very end’s approaching quickly,” Wedge said Monday in Peoria, Ariz. “So we’ll see how the next couple days play out, but it’s safe to say that we’re getting very close to making the decisions we need to make.”

It looks like 34-year-old Jason Bay may have the inside track on the final outfield position over a younger Casper Wells.

Bay is hitting .319 with an on-base-percentage hovering around .400 and has outplayed Wells who is hitting .196 with a .250 OBP.

Bay has also played every position in the outfield, something he hasn’t done since playing with Team Canada in 2009. The Trail native went 2-for-5 with an RBI in a 16-0 shelllacking of the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, playing in right field, while Wells got the start in left, going 1-for-3, with a walk, two ribbies, and two strike outs.

Still, Wells has youth on his side. At just 28, his best still may be yet to come. The same cannot be said for Bay, who’s batting average decreased during each of the last four seasons.

Bay hasn’t been a solid major league contributor since 2010, when he hit 36 homers and drove in 119 runs for Boston. So picking Bay over Wells means the Mariners are banking on a career CPR act from Bay. Picking Wells would only require the “Upstate Baller” to take the step forward the organization thought he would take when they traded for him.

Yesterday, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times projected Bay would make the roster over Wells. That feeling is slowly becoming the conventional wisdom regarding the situation.

An outfield of Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Saunders, Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez leaves little opportunity for Wells to get the extended reps he needs to improve. And with all of his minor league options exhausted, Tacoma is not a possibility.

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