The roof would’ve been open when Marco Gonzales, clad in a crisp, white home uniform, fired the first pitch of the Mariners’ 2020 season from the mound of T-Mobile Park.

Thursday was supposed to be opening day in Seattle. And it would’ve been an afternoon without rain, which doesn’t happen much this time of year. Sure, the sun would’ve stayed tucked behind a thick ceiling of clouds, and warm coats would’ve been needed for later innings.

But still, no rain and baseball.


Instead, T-Mobile sat dormant, experiencing its own version of social distancing. A place where people convened to enjoy a game that could unite generations and backgrounds is now a symbol of the status of sports during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even in a season where not much is expected from a team featuring so many rookies and inexperienced players, the rite that is the beginning of a baseball season and the knowledge of warmer days ahead still brings joy to even the most jaded fan.

It’s one of the few times when bunting is acceptable. No, not bunting the baseball to move a runner, which is acceptable only on the rarest of occasions, but the red-white-and-blue decorations that cover the stadium, usually reserved for opening day and the postseason. And with the Mariners, the bunting has been used only once a year for a while now.

But let’s not dwell on failures, because that can be done any day. It was supposed to be new season with new goals — realistic and unrealistic — and new faces, many of whom look far younger than their listed age.


Though the playoffs never seemed like an option for this season, there was something tangible about the games being played.

In Season 2 of this rebuild plan, often referred to as a “step-back,” every game, inning and pitch for young players such as Kyle Lewis, Evan White, Shed Long, Justus Sheffield, Joey Gerber and others meant an opportunity for growth. And it would indicate the team’s timeline to success.

It’s now all on hold, but in an effort to return to normalcy, here’s the projected Mariners’ opening-day roster, as well as the starting lineups from manager Scott Servais and Rangers manager Chris Woodward (with the help of two Texas beat writers) for that first game of a season that isn’t being played Thursday.

Baseball will return, we hope, but until then …

Starting lineups


  1. Shed Long, 2B
  2. Evan White, 1B
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Daniel Vogelbach, DH
  5. Kyle Lewis, RF
  6. J.P. Crawford, SS
  7. Tom Murphy, C
  8. Jake Fraley, LF
  9. Mallex Smith, CF

Marco Gonzales, LHP


  1. Shin Soo-Choo, DH
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS
  3. Danny Santana, CF
  4. Joey Gallo, RF
  5. Todd Frazier, 1B
  6. Nick Solak, LF
  7. Rougned Odor, 2B
  8. Robinson Chirinos, C
  9. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 3B

Lance Lynn, RHP

Mariners’ projected opening-day roster

Starting rotation (5)

  • Marco Gonzales, LHP
  • Yusei Kikuchi, LHP
  • Kendall Graveman, RHP
  • Justus Sheffield, LHP
  • Taijuan Walker, RHP

Notes: Just days before baseball was shut down, Servais confirmed what everybody already knew — Gonzales was going to be his opening-day starter for the second consecutive season. Kikuchi and his new mechanics were impressive in the spring, but the test of regular-season games and real competition would’ve been enlightening. Even with the past injury issues of Graveman and Walker and the inexperience and inconsistency of Kikuchi and Sheffield, this rotation still seems to have more talent and potential than a year ago.

Bullpen (8)

  • Yoshihisa Hirano, RHP
  • Carl Edwards Jr., RHP
  • Dan Altavilla, RHP
  • Matt Magill, RHP
  • Joey Gerber, RHP
  • Erik Swanson, RHP
  • Taylor Guilbeau, LHP
  • Nestor Cortes, LHP

Notes: This group is just, well, um, so unpredictable. For every strong outing Hirano had in spring, he had another that looked sort of “meh.” The velocity on Edwards’ fastball didn’t seem as electric as two years ago, which isn’t a surprise. But the command that was never really there before hadn’t magically appeared in Arizona. Magill would’ve been limited in the first weeks as he was slightly behind the other relievers because shoulder issues. The two best relievers this spring were Gerber and Cortes. Gerber’s strong showing and riding, high-90s fastball made Sam Tuivailala and his lingering velocity and shoulder issues expendable. Cortes’ ability to pitch multiple innings and get right-handed hitters out made him one of the most valuable pieces in the bullpen.

Outfielders (3)

  • Mallex Smith, CF
  • Jake Fraley, LF
  • Kyle Lewis, RF

Notes: Yes, the Mariners were going to start the season with just three full-time outfielders on the active roster. The struggles of Braden Bishop, the diminishing skills of Carlos Gonzalez and the inexperience of Jarred Kelenic were all factors in this decision as well as the versatility and athleticism of the myriad utility players in camp.

Infielders/Utility (8)

  • Kyle Seager, 3B
  • J.P Crawford, SS
  • Shed Long Jr., 2B
  • Evan White, 1B
  • Daniel Vogelbach, DH
  • Dee Gordon, 2B/SS
  • Dylan Moore, Utility
  • Tim Lopes, Utility

Notes: The infield was decided months before spring training. White erased any doubts about his ability to take over at first base and handle any pressure associated with signing an eight-year, $24 million contract with a solid spring. Instead of trying to decide between Lopes and Moore for one spot, they kept them both. Moore would serve as the extra outfielder when needed with Lopes and Gordon able to fill in when needed.

Catchers (2)

  • Tom Murphy
  • Austin Nola

Notes: The leadership and commitment that Murphy and Nola displayed this spring in terms of working with pitchers and embracing preparation wasn’t unexpected, but reassuring and inspiring for Servais and the front office. Both catchers realize the opportunity presented to them — something that seemed like an impossibility for either at this point last season. Servais said the playing time split between the two catchers would be around 60-40 with Murphy seeing just a little more time. No starting pitcher was going to have a specific catcher for outings, but Murphy would certainly have been catching Kikuchi’s first start. The duo had worked well together late last season.