Former Lincoln Saltdogs' pitcher Chris Jakubauskas makes Seattle Mariners' opening day roster

Sunday, April 5, 2009

SEATTLE -- Former Lincoln Saltdogs right-hander Chris Jakubauskas, who won all six of his decisions in a Lincoln uniform in 2007, was added Sunday to the Opening Day roster of the Seattle Mariners.

He becomes the first former Saltdogs player to make a major-league roster.

"This is a great day for Saltdogs baseball," said Lincoln general manager Tim Utrup. "Independent baseball, especially the American Association, has become a great place for players to show their talents and prove they deserve a shot. Chris was outstanding for us in 2007, and we were thrilled for him then when the Mariners chose to sign him.

"We're even happier for him now that he's pitched his way to the major leagues. It also shows that players who do well here in Lincoln will get noticed. We think Chris could be just the first of many former Saltdogs who find their way to the majors."

The 30-year-old righty came into Seattle's spring training as a non-roster invitee, and few people gave him a chance of making the team.

However, Jakubauskas shined in seven appearances, including four starts, winning two games and posting a 1.99 ERA.Jakubauskas allowed just 17 hits in 22.2 innings pitched striking out 12 and walking just five.

Although Jakubauskas made four spring starts, the Mariners plan to use him out of the bullpen. Seattle has no left-handed relievers on the roster, and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said he may bring Jakubauskas out of the pen to face left-handed batters.

"We feel comfortable with him in that role," Wakamatsu told Jakubauskas pitched well against lefties in the spring.

Jakubauskas joined the Saltdogs before the start of the 2007 season, and quickly established himself as the staff ace. He went 6-0 in seven starts with a 2.42 ERA, holding American Association opponents to a .184 batting average.

After his last start for Lincoln on June 11, 2007 (a win over St. Paul), the Mariners purchased his contract and sent him to Class AA West Tennessee. Jakubauskas spent the rest of the season there, and split most of the 2008 campaign between West Tennessee and Class AAA Tacoma.

While Jakubauskas prepares for his major-league debut, another former Saltdogs' pitcher could be just a phone call away from the big leagues.

Left-hander Lindsay Gulin, who went 13-2 for Lincoln in 2006, has been assigned to the Milwaukee Brewers' Class AAA affiliate in Nashville.

Gulin was an All-Star for Nashville in 2008, and earned praise from Milwaukee's coaching staff this spring after posting a 2.57 ERA in 10 appearances as a non-roster invitee.

The 2009 Lincoln Saltdogs season begins on May 14 in Wichita, with the home opener scheduled for May 22 against Fort Worth.

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