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With Olivo out, M's looking at backup catchers

With Seattle hoping to get catcher Miguel Olivo back by opening day, the Mariners are also getting a good look at the backups in spring training.

The Mariners are without Olivo, a veteran who was signed this offseason to take over as the starter, because of a strained groin he suffered on March 5. His was out indefinitely after an MRI.

But Olivo is recovering quickly. He's running hard, catching bullpen sessions, taking batting practice and threw from home plate to second and third bases over the weekend.

"I'm ready now," Olivo said. "I can play now and the only thing I'm waiting for is the go-ahead to get into a spring training game."

The Mariners, as they have done with their top pitchers, are being cautious with Olivo.

Meanwhile, manager Eric Wedge is getting a good look at his group of backups. But only one of the trio — Josh Bard, Adam Moore or Chris Gimenez — is likely to make the Mariners' opening day roster.

Moore, who was drafted in the sixth round in 2006, has been hitting well in spring. He's 7 for 19 (.368) in spring training, but his inability to hit consistently in the majors is why the 26-year-old has only played 66 games.

Bard, a veteran with big league stints in Cleveland, Boston, San Diego, Washington and Seattle, was called up last May from Triple-A Tacoma when Moore went on the disabled list, but he ended up going on the DL for a month. He's back as a non-roster invitee and is hitting .263, but considers that less of a priority.

"It doesn't really change anything," Bard said about getting more playing time. "I've got to go out there and first and foremost make the pitcher my priority that day. We're trying to get these guys ready to go for the season and put together good at-bats."

Bard said handling the pitching staff is the big key for keeping him in the majors, whether it be in Seattle or with another club.

"That's what I know is going to keep me here and ultimately, that's what helps the team win," he said. "If you go out there and do the things that help teams win, managers will keep you."

Gimenez could make things more interesting. He's a catcher with 63 major league games to his credit, who has yet to hit well in the majors. But he can play outfield, first base and third base.

Wedge will ponder what he wants to do for a little while longer as far as roster decisions, but a healthy Olivo could make such a call easier. And Wedge seems encouraged that Olivo will be ready for April 1.

"We're still hoping that Miggy (Olivo) is going to be ready," Wedge said. "He's moving along. Obviously that's important to us.

"We don't have a defined date just yet, but the workload has been progressively moving up," Wedge said. "We've been pulling back from time to time and certain days to give him a blow but when you look at the work and what he's doing, it's been pretty consistent with the progression."