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Andrew Albers wanted to take his game to Japan, and the Seattle Mariners obliged by releasing the veteran left-hander from his contract.

That slots the Mariners’ 40-man roster back to 38 players.

Albers posted on his Twitter that he plans to pitch for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, the highest level of baseball in Japan.

But the Mariners have plenty of starting pitching depth, so instead of his likely landing spot at Triple-A Tacoma to play for the Rainiers, the 32-year-old Albers decided he’d try his hand in Japan.

He arrived in Seattle from the Atlanta Braves in a cash transaction on Aug. 11 and made his first start for the Mariners against Baltimore in the place of fellow Canadian James Paxton, who was down at the time with a strained left pectoral. Albers earned the win, allowing one run in five innings with four strikeouts.

Albers and Paxton were also teammates at the University of Kentucky.

“When I went for my visit, he was the player who showed me around,” Paxton had said. “He was definitely a part of selling Kentucky to me. A great guy. He’s one of those A-plus character guys. He really competes. Plays hard.”

Before the Mariners acquired Albers, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound native of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, he was 12-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 games, including 17 starts, for Triple-A Gwinnett in the Braves’ system.

Then he made six starts for Seattle and appeared in nine games, going 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA.

The 2008 10th round draft pick by the San Diego Padres has gone 7-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 18 starts and eight relief appearances over parts of four seasons with the Twins, Blue Jays and Mariners.

Starting pitchers left on the Mariners’ 40-man roster include Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, Erasmo Ramirez, Marco Gonzales, Ariel Miranda, Andrew Moore, Chase De Jong and Max Povse.

“We have guys who can start or relieve,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said during the MLB Winter Meetings. “No matter how you cut it, we are going to have some extra pitching in terms of depth. With Marco Gonzales, Andrew Moore, Max Povse, Ariel Miranda, in addition to Erasmo and Paxton and Hernandez and Mike Leake – our pitching is probably a little deeper than most are giving it credit for being.”


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