Seattle Mariners

Mariners close to minor-league deal with catcher John Baker

The Mariners filled their need for a veteran backup catcher Wednesday by reaching agreement with John Baker on a minor-league deal, pending a physical examination.

The contract, which likely includes an invitation to the big-league camp, should become official by the end of the week.

Baker, 34, alerted his Twitter followers to his new deal early Wednesday by announcing “Next chapter begins. @Mariners.”

The pending agreement fills the club’s desire to acquire a veteran with proven catch-and-throw skills as organizational depth.

Baker will likely battle Jesus Sucre for duty as Mike Zunino’s backup on the big-league roster. That loser figures to share duty with John Hicks at Triple-A Tacoma.

A seven-year veteran, Baker is a left-handed hitter who batted .192 in 68 games last season for the Chicago Cubs. He has averages of .247 (batting), .330 (on-base percentage) and .341 (slugging) in 359 career games with the Marlins, Padres and Cubs.

MOVING ON

Felix Hernandez is moving on to the second round in MLB Network’s latest online survey to determine the “Face of MLB.”

Hernandez outpolled Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo by a 54-46 percentage margin in a one-day matchup that ended early Wednesday.

By winning, Hernandez will face Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon in a second-round matchup in February.

Coincidentally, Gordon will receive the Hutch Award for community service in a Thursday luncheon at Safeco Field.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

@TNT_Mariners

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