Seattle Mariners Inside Pitch 2008-12-30

Jamie Burke was, for the second year in a row, a valuable backup in 2007 and 2008.

He'll be back in the organization in 2009, but there is no guarantee he will be on the big-league roster.

Burke signed a minor league deal with the Mariners just before Christmas, shortly after having been non-tendered.

A 37-year-old journeyman, Burke had played in just 73 major league games before making an Opening Day roster for the first time with the Mariners in 2007.

"I definitely feel like I've found a home," the Oregon native said. "Everybody's treated me well here. We had a rough year last year, but I just try to put that behind me."

New general manager Jack Zduriencik admitted he didn't know much about Burke when he took over, but new manager Don Wakamatsu did. Wakamatsu and Burke were together in the Angels organization when Wakamatsu was the roving catching instructor from 2001-02.

The move strengthens the possibility that the club will carry three catchers, with Kenji Johjima and Jeff Clement figured to be together in the lineup -- one serving as DH -- at least as the roster currently looks.

"I'm in the situation I'm usually in, going in there (to spring training) and trying to win a job," Burke said. "I'll try to show these guys that I can be the backup or the third catcher or whatever they want me to do. But I'm probably not as comfortable coming into spring training as I was last year, I'll tell you that."

Said Zduriencik: "Jamie will battle for a spot on the 25-man roster. There were no promises made, but he'll get the chance to compete."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 30, 2008