The Mariners made the same move with backup catcher Pat Borders.
Shortstop Rich Aurilia was released Saturday, two weeks after the Mariners traded pitcher Freddy Garcia and catcher Ben Davis.
Seattle has 10 days to release, trade or send Olerud to the minors. If he is released, the Mariners would be responsible for the remainder of his $7.7 million salary.
Olerud, 35, has a no-trade clause in his contract and recently turned down a deal to the San Francisco Giants.
The Mariners went into Thursday night's game against Cleveland with a 32-54 record, only a half-game ahead of Kansas City for the worst mark in the AL.
Manager Bob Melvin said it was important for the Mariners to start playing younger players with a look toward 2005. Veteran Scott Spiezio will switch from third base to first, handing 27-year-old Justin Leone the third-base job.
"A lot of these things that we do during the season is to find out where we go next year," Melvin said. "You're not able to do it if you just call some guys up in September and see how they do in September. So to find out where our roster is going to go and how we're to retool next year, it's a necessity that we go this route."
But it wasn't easy for the Mariners to make their decision to get rid of Olerud, a Seattle native who grew up in suburban Bellevue and starred at Washington State before signing with Toronto in 1989. He signed with the Mariners before the 2000 season.
"There's going to be some pain to move on obviously," Melvin said.
|John Olerud recently turned down a trade to the Giants.(AP)|
Olerud said he wants to continue playing this season, but he doesn't know if there's any interest in his services. He said he turned down going to the Giants because he didn't want to leave Seattle.
"I'm going to look at my options and see what teams would be interested," he said. "When I first had a trade come up and offered to me, the thought was, 'How would this be better for my family and that sort of thing?' Because this is home for me. Now, the option of staying home isn't an option."
A career .295 hitter and former AL batting champion, Olerud was hitting just .245 with five home runs and 22 RBI.
"Seeing this happen to a player Olie is hard to take," Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez said. "A player who has played so much consistent ball. His whole career. A great player. It's hard to see that."
Borders hit .189 with one homer and five RBI in 53 at-bats.
The Mariners called up infielder Bucky Jacobsen from Triple-A Tacoma and activated catcher Miguel Olivo from the disabled list. Olivo was acquired in the deal that sent Garcia to the Chicago White Sox. Olivo was in the lineup Thursday night.
The 28-year-old Jacobsen, a career minor leaguer who has been in three different organizations over the past eight years, is hitting .318 with 26 homers and 86 RBI for Tacoma.
"Some at-bats will go down for some guys around here," said Melvin, who didn't mention Martinez by name. "But we'll take a look at some different things."
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved