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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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May 9, 2007 8:11 AM

Mateo, rain and Detroit

Posted by Geoff Baker

Now there's a threesome to contemplate this bleak morning. Yes, still in Detroit. No, the city isn't getting any better. You've got to love a place where it's next to impossible to get a taxi cab an hour after the game at a stadium that's smack dab in the middle of town. I walked for 20 minutes through some less-than-dignified streets to get back to the hotel and never saw any cars with a dome light. And this morning, it's raining out. Don't worry, though, the game is still hours away. Let's just leave it at that.

On to your favorite relief pitcher and mine. Just in case anyone missed this story in our morning paper about Julio Mateo being investigated by police in Seattle before his New York arrest, just read it. It gives some context that was missing in Mateo's apology earlier this week. And kudos to our paper's news staff for digging this up.

Anyone think this guy's teammates want him back? Nothing I've heard inside the clubhouse the past few days leads me to believe that.

Hey, if the Mariners still want to bring him back, good luck to them. Not really my business who they hire and fire. But if they expect the media to simply forget about what has happened and focus on his pitching, that's a little naive.

The Mariners' response to the news of two 911 calls being made to Seattle police from Mateo's home on April 28?

"No, we did not know" of the new allegations before today, team president Chuck Armstrong told me this morning in a phone call.

And the team released a statement via e-mail this morning:

"The Seattle Mariners are learning new information about Julio Mateo and domestic-violence allegations against him. We are treating this very seriously. We are investigating, and will not have further comment until we know more.

"Julio remains suspended and is undergoing counseling. He remains the subject of a criminal prosecution in the state of New York. We have urged him to cooperate fully with authorities and he is doing so."

Armstrong has been left in a rather uncomfortable position by Mateo. After all, it was Armstrong who, on Sunday, released a passionate-sounding statement about the Mariners and their commitment to fighting the problem of domestic violence.

"The Seattle Mariners as an organization deplores domestic violence,'' his statement read. "There is simply no excuse for it. Over the years we have endeavored to be in the forefront of efforts to confront and eradicate domestic violence. We have joined with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its "Refuse To Abuse" campaign since its inception in 1997.

"Accordingly, the situation that occurred over the weekend involving Mariners pitcher Julio Mateo is of great concern to us. We have moved as quickly as possible to deal with all facets of the matter where we can."

Armstrong wasn't sure what the next step would be. "What are you going to do?'' he said in the phone conversation this morning. "He's suspended already.''

One suggestion would be to have Mateo come clean about just what type of history the team is dealing with. Yes, yes, I'm well aware that Mateo doesn't want to make things worse for himself in his upcoming court case. But guess what? It's probably going to come out sooner or later.

MARINERS STILL IN IT

Enough about the guys who aren't on the team. Now, for the guys who are. The really interesting part of this 2-4 road trip for the Mariners is that they seem to actually be gaining ground in the division race. They are still a half-game out of first place, though it's a new team atop the AL West. And to think, I was ribbing colleague Larry Stone barely a week ago about picking the A's to win the division. I still don't think that will happen. But if you think Bill Bavasi is the only "Bill" general manager in the AL West on a "Hot Seat" think again. I'm not saying Angels GM Bill Stoneman is in danger of being fired, but the fans there are getting a little tired of his no-hit offense. The Angels don't need a Rally Monkey. They need a bat. Or three. This latest DL casualty won't help a bit because pitching is the only thing keeping the Angels alive right now. How many millions can you throw at quality pitching without providing minimal run support. If ever there was a guy under pressure to make an in-season trade, Stoneman is the guy. Here's a fun exercise. Try to figure out which team, the Angels or the A's, has a worse offense at the present time, injuries and all.

As for the Mariners, their bullpen is walking a tightrope these days. A six-inning job by starters has become cause for celebration while the bullpen is already down Mateo and was working without Sean White last night. White was feeling ill and sent home before last night's game. No word on his availability for tonight. The rain and thunder going on outside me right now might be the best possible news for this team. No, they don't want any more off-days taken away. But backloading a future doubleheader against the Tigers, with Felix Hernandez presumably back and the bullpen a little fresher, might not be the worst thing.

Speaking of Hernandez, his injury and rehab gets the big treatment this morning from USA Today. Oh, by the way, it is positively pouring outside. Love this town.

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