PEORIA, Ariz. — Scott Servais got his roster wish … for a month.

While it has yet to be made official, multiple news outlets have reported that Major League Baseball has decided to allow an expanded 28-player roster for the first month of the 2022 season.

With a shortened four-week spring training that doesn’t allow for pitchers to build up to normal levels in terms of innings and pitches, the decision to allow teams to carry extra pitchers seemed logical as a form of injury prevention.

“We don’t get what we want come May 1,” Servais said. “We go back to 26 players, which is what I expected. But we still don’t get the freedom to put the team together the way we want. It will be 13 (position players) and 13 (pitchers). The decision has been made.”

With a 26-player roster, Servais wanted the option to carry 12 position players and 14 pitchers, believing the extra pitcher was more valuable to how the team plays games compared to an extra bench player that likely won’t play much.

Servais wasn’t certain whether they would opt to go with two pitchers for the extra two roster spots.

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“My guess is it’ll probably be two extra pitchers based on what we look like when we leave here,” he said. “That extra position player probably wouldn’t play a lot. But we’ll see. There is nothing determined yet.”

The latest roster projection reflects that change and has the Mariners carrying 13 position players and 15 pitchers.

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Starting Rotation (5)

  • Robbie Ray, LHP
  • Logan Gilbert, RHP
  • Marco Gonzales, LHP
  • Chris Flexen, RHP
  • Matt Brash, RHP

Notes: Jerry Dipoto’s quest to add another starting pitcher to the top of the rotation has yet to be realized. The asking prices for Oakland pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas are elevated, particularly with the Reds not inclined to move either Luis Castillo or Tyler Mahle.

If that doesn’t happen, Brash seems to have the slight edge over top pitching prospect George Kirby — though that could change. With the Mariners intent on managing their workloads and having them available late in the season, Brash has a slight edge because he threw 97 1/3 innings last season while Kirby threw 67 2/3. It means Seattle can push his Brash’s 2022 inning total slightly higher than Kirby. The best way to control that workload is in the minor leagues.

Besides the battle for the fifth spot, the only other drama is the order of the rotation and how it pertains to opening day. While there has been no official announcement, it appears Ray is slotted to make the opening day start. He is scheduled to pitch Monday vs. the Rangers. He would likely make one more start Saturday, April 2, and be on normal rest for opening day April 7 at Target Field.

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Bullpen (10)

  • Ken Giles, RHP
  • Paul Sewald, RHP
  • Drew Steckenrider, RHP
  • Sergio Romo, RHP
  • Erik Swanson, RHP
  • Diego Castillo, RHP
  • Andres Munoz, RHP
  • Yohan Ramirez, RHP
  • Anthony Misiewicz, LHP
  • Justus Sheffield, LHP

Notes: With Casey Sadler lost for season due to shoulder surgery, Dipoto signed veteran right-hander Sergio Romo as a pseudo-replacement. With almost 800 MLB relief appearances, Romo has enough experience to handle any sort of role or situation that the Mariners might ask him to handle.

Servais was adamant that the team won’t have a set closer. So, while Giles looked outstanding in his most recent outing, showing a solid slider and a fastball that touched 96 mph, the Mariners aren’t going to just hand him the ball in every situation. They will continue to play matchups similar to last season, using Romo, Sewald and Steckenrider and lefty Anthony Misiewicz based on matchups.

Andres Munoz looked solid in his first Cactus League appearance, hitting 101 mph with multiple fastballs and showing improved command. But with Munoz coming off Tommy John surgery and his relatively young age (23), the Mariners will be somewhat cautious with his usage early in the season.  

Sheffield and fellow lefty Nick Margevicius would serve as a long reliever in the bullpen. Thus far, Sheffield has looked slightly stronger this spring with his slider showing the life it had in the 2020 season.

Outfielders (5)

  • Jarred Kelenic, CF/LF
  • Mitch Haniger, RF
  • Jesse Winker, LF
  • Julio Rodriguez, CF/RF
  • Billy Hamilton, OF

Notes: Rodriguez had his first subpar game of the spring Friday, striking out three times and misplaying a hop on a line drive to center that allowed the ball to roll to the wall. But in every other game, he’s done at least one or two positive things on the field to help the team win.

With the Mariners resistant to have a full-time designated hitter, opting to use a rotation of players would allow them a way to get almost daily at-bats for Rodriguez.

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On days when a tough left-hander is starting against them, Servais can sit Winker or Kelenic or both and have them for later innings while Rodriguez, Haniger and either the switch-hitting Hamilton or Dylan Moore start in the other outfield spot.

On days when there is a right-handed starter, Winker and Kelenic play and either Rodriguez or Haniger handle DH duties. By all indications of how they are handling him, Rodriguez is set to make the opening-day roster.

Is he ready for the rigors of facing MLB pitching?

It’s a fair question to ask. The struggles of Kelenic in his first call-up provide some hesitancy. But they are two different players with two different personalities. And right now, Rodriguez is one of the nine best players in camp. If the focus is supposed to be on winning this season, Rodriguez’s talent and potential are more beneficial to that quest than Steven Souza Jr. or Hamilton.

Hamilton would be the last position player to make the roster. His baserunning skills and solid defense in center would be valuable assets in that first month of the season.

Infielders (6)

  • Ty France, 1B
  • Adam Frazier, 2B
  • J.P. Crawford, SS
  • Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  • Dylan Moore, utility
  • Abraham Toro, utility

Notes: The infield has been set since the trade for Winker and Suarez early in camp. Toro made his first appearance in left field Friday for a few innings. This won’t be a regular occurrence. The Mariners just want to know that he can handle playing there if need be. Servais confirmed that Frazier will be the everyday second baseman. The team will avoid having him move around too much, allowing him to focus on one position and being the plus hitter that they desire.

Catchers (2)

  • Tom Murphy
  • Luis Torrens

Notes: Cal Raleigh has looked solid this spring. He’s using a new wider setup at the plate and seems more balanced in the batter’s box. He also trimmed down this offseason and seems more mobile behind the plate. He did a solid job catching Ray. Torrens isn’t a good catcher right now. His receiving, blocking and throwing are below average. But he’s proven he can hit and play some first base. Is that enough to keep him on the MLB roster, particularly when the DH spot will be used for outfielders? Perhaps the dilemma is determining the importance of Raleigh playing every day in Tacoma vs. playing in a backup or part-time role at the MLB level.