Lee eager for Opening Day and beyond

Big first baseman said Mariners career is 'just starting'

Lee eager for Opening Day and beyond

ARLINGTON -- Dae-Ho Lee has dreamed of this moment for a while, making a Major League Opening Day roster after putting up big numbers the past 12 years in his native Korea and Japan.

But the 6-foot-4, 250-pound first baseman is looking beyond Monday's lid lifter against the Rangers as he opens his Mariners career.

"I feel very happy," Lee said Sunday through his interpreter, D.J. Park, as he sat at his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Globe Life Park with a bat in hand. "But this is just starting. I'm going to show everything that I have."

Lee won't start the opener as manager Scott Servais has ticketed Adam Lind for the first game, even against tough lefty Cole Hamels. But Lee will face a lot of the left-handers this season, including Tuesday's second game against Martin Perez.

The left-handed-hitting Lind will start the majority of games because he'll regularly face right-handers, with Lee targeted to face most southpaws. But Seattle sees a solid string of lefties the first week, and Servais will let Lind play some despite his career .586 OPS against southpaws compared to .836 vs. righties.

Cruz, Lind's back-to-back homers

"Obviously, [Lind's] track record is killing right-handed pitching," Servais said. "I don't want to solely lock him into that. We're going to see a lot of left-handed pitching. Four of our first six are against lefties, so he will get some starts against lefties. But I think once you get into the normal flow of the season and you're not getting quite that many, then you'll probably see a little bit more straight platoon."

As for Lee? The 33-year-old looked overmatched at times at the plate this spring as he adjusted to Major League pitching, but he surprised the Mariners with his agility at first base and instincts on the basepaths for a big man.

"The bat will tell the story, if he'll be able to handle the left-handed pitching, in particular, which is pretty good in this league, especially in our division," Servais said. "So we will see. He's going to have plenty of opportunity."

Clevenger gets the nod

Steve Clevenger says he wasn't told until after Saturday's Cactus League finale that he'd made the 25-man roster, but the 29-year-old catcher did his best throughout camp to not get caught up in the battle with Rob Brantly for the backup role to Chris Iannetta.

Clevenger's RBI double

"When you're coming to the end of spring and you've got two catchers that are out of options, it's mind-rattling sometimes," said Clevenger, who was acquired in a December trade with the Orioles for Mark Trumbo. "But you just have to let it pass through and go with the flow and just have a good time with everything.

"This year, I just didn't get into that. I just wanted to focus on really trying to catch well and impress these guys with my catching. That was the main thing. I was just worried about getting better every day. I've been fighting for jobs for the last five years. You can't really worry about it too much. It'll eat you up if you do."

Clevenger has played 148 games over the past five years with the Cubs and Orioles, and this is the third time he's made an Opening Day roster.

Peralta perspective

The Mariners have five players making their first Opening Day roster, with Lee joined by shortstop Ketel Marte, utility infielder Luis Sardinas and relievers Mike Montgomery and Tony Zych. At the other end of the spectrum, Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano are making their 11th Opening Day appearances.

Marte is the youngest player on the roster at 22 years, 175 days. Reliever Joel Peralta is the oldest, having turned 40 two weeks ago. Peralta made the club as a non-roster invitee and will be making his seventh Opening Day roster in his 12th year in the Majors.

"It's one of the best feelings," Peralta said. "You have butterflies when you walk down that line. It's awesome to be part of a 25-man roster with the best players in the whole world."

Worth noting

Seth Smith hasn't played in a week due to a sore groin muscle, but the outfielder took part in Sunday's workout at Globe Life Park and Servais said he'll be ready to go on Monday if needed, though Nelson Cruz will get the start in right field against the left-handed starter, with Franklin Gutierrez at DH.

• Two Mariners have a history of hitting well against the Rangers -- Cruz batted .410 (25-for-61) with six homers against his former club last year and Kyle Seager is a career .353 hitter (60-for-170) with 17 doubles and seven homers in 43 games in Arlington.

• Hernandez opens the season needing three wins to break Jamie Moyer's club record of 145 for a career and 21 strikeouts to pass Randy Johnson's Mariners mark of 2,162.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.