Mariners release infielder Kawasaki


Munenori Kawasaki’s major league career has come to a crossroads after one season in the bigs with the Seattle Mariners, who announced he was being left off the club’s 40-man roster.

The Arizona Diamondbacks also excluded veteran reliever Takashi Saito from their immediate plans by not offering him a contract for next season.

Kawasaki, who played in 61 games primarily as a pinch runner and defensive substitute, intends to continue playing in the majors. The 31-year-old batted .192. He scored 13 runs, drove in seven and stole two bases while being caught twice.

Kawasaki earned a major league contract with his hustle and energy in the spring after leaving the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks as a free agent over the winter and signing a minor league deal with the Mariners.

The Mariners, who began the season with three Japanese players, now have just one, right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Seattle traded longtime star Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees after the All-Star break.