Ramirez, Pries among arms to take mound in intrasquad game

Mariners to get look at several pitchers battling for roster spots

Ramirez, Pries among arms to take mound in intrasquad game

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Erasmo Ramirez and Jordan Pries will start Monday's intrasquad game for the Mariners -- though with rain in the forecast, the game is weather permitting.

Ramirez is one of three main contenders for Seattle's vacant No. 5 starter spot, along with Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias. Pries, meanwhile, is a 25-year-old left-hander who posted a 4.06 ERA in 25 appearances for Triple-A Tacoma last season.

Charlie Furbush gets the ball after Pries, and he'll be followed by Lucas Luetge, one of the candidates for the No. 2 lefty spot in the Mariners' bullpen. Veteran southpaw Joe Saunders, who has an outside shot to make the team in that lefty reliever role, will get the ball after Ramirez.

Justin Germano, Tyler Olson, Forrest Snow, Stephen Landazuri and Mark Lowe are also scheduled to pitch.

• Manager Lloyd McClendon said Jesus Sucre enters camp with the upper hand in the race for the Mariners' backup catcher job. Oft-injured John Baker, who was signed to a Minor League deal in January, and John Hicks, who is probably destined for Triple-A Tacoma, are also in the mix.

"I would think [Sucre has the edge]," McClendon said. "He did a heck of a job for us last year. We brought guys in to compete, we'll see what happens."

Sucre batted .213 last season with two extra-base hits in 61 at-bats. He threw out four of 14 potential base stealers.

Following Taijuan Walker in Wednesday's Cactus League opener will be right-handed starter Sam Gaviglio, whom the Mariners acquired in a Minor League trade in November.

Then, it'll be five relievers looking to crack the Opening Day roster: Mike Kickham, David Rollins, Rafael Perez, Carson Smith and Dominic Leone -- in that order.

• McClendon has been impressed with the progression of Mike Zunino into a catcher who can reliably handle a pitching staff.

"I think it's a natural maturation process," McClendon said. "He has taken a step, and it's very noticeable."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.