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<  Shannon Drayer

Garland will force the Mariners to make a decision Friday plus 3 sent down

By Shannon Drayer

1:15 update. I just spoke with John Garland in the clubhouse and he has yet to talk to anyone in the organization about what happens next. He expects to do that shortly. I asked specifically if he has opted out yet and he said no.

If the performance wasn't enough to give Mariners officials an inkling that Jon Garland would force them to make a decision, his words in the clubhouse left no doubt.

After throwing 6 innings giving up 2 runs (both home runs on mistake pitches) on 5 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts Garland said he expects to know if he makes the Mariners rotation Friday. Garland has a deal to opt out of his contract if the M's don't name him to the rotation by today.

"That is my out clause," he said in the clubhouse Thursday night. "I am sure there have been scouts in the stands every time I have thrown. They are usually out here scouting anyway, so if they don't keep me here I am sure there will be a phone call. If not I will be poolside at the house hanging out."

His pool time will most likely have to wait. There have been plenty of scouts in attendance and there appears to be interest from other teams. The ball is now in the Mariners court on whether or not they want to go forward with Garland in the rotation from the start of the season.

"I think I have shown them everything I can," said Garland. "Now the decision is on them. There's a lot of young arms here that have proven themselves more than worthy so it's going to be a tough decision on them and there are a lot of factors that go into making the decision to keep me or not. It its going to be tough on them, they are going to have to weigh heavy on it. We will see what they come up with."

After the game Eric Wedge did little to tip his hand about the decision that will come in the next 24 hours.

"We need to get together, that is obviously a specific situation," he said when asked if Garland had answered all the questions he needed to. "We will get together tonight or maybe tomorrow morning or both and figure out what we are going to do."

He also noted that the decision will not be about this one performance.

"Obviously we have got a lot of moving parts when it comes to the starting rotation," he said. "It's not just about him, it's about everyone who is involved with this."

Perhaps sensing the pressure is Erasmo Ramirez, who followed Garland with his roughest outing of the spring. In just two innings he gave up 4 runs on 6 hits and 1 strikeout. This on the heels of a minor league game he pitched in and was hit hard.

The organization is very high on Ramirez but he may have hurt his chances to make this rotation. By the looks of things, especially if the decision is to go with Garland, Beavan and Ramirez will be facing some important starts coming up.

One interesting aside, and it might not mean anything but on the pregame show Thurday Eric Wedge told Rick Rizzs that he was not terribly concerned that there was a good possibility that Ramirez would not get a lot of innings Thursday backing up Garland.

"He's built up more than most. We can stretch him out next time if we need to," he said.

That "if we need to" has a bit of an ominous tone to it.

So the Mariners will make a decision and Jon Garland will either be in the clubhouse Friday or by his pool taking calls. He appears to be healthy, he can get big leaguers out, his pitches look sharp and he is getting decent sink on the ball. The biggest question I have about Garland is how many innings can he throw in his first season back from surgery? It is a concern the Mariners really don't need to worry about because if Garland is in the rotation then there will be plenty of back up ready to go when needed.

A healthy, good arm is a tough thing to just send away. The young pitchers aren't going anywhere. I think it would be a somewhat big surprise if the Mariners turn down Jon Garland.

Notes...After the game the Mariners made three roster moves. The team has optioned Carlos Peguero to Tacoma and re-assigned Nick Franklin and Carson Smith...Jason Bay's first time in center this spring was uneventful. So uneventful Wedge is planning on putting him out there again Friday.

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