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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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July 12, 2008 9:38 PM

Ichiro turns down Home Run Derby

Posted by Geoff Baker

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This is a story I've written for tomorrow's paper, but since you've all been so patient watching the Mariners tonight, I thought I'd give you a sneak preview of what will be in tomorrow's Times.

Yes, Ichiro was indeed offered a chance to participate in next week's Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. He was approached earlier this week by MLB officials and said he'd get back to them on it. An MLB source revealed this, so I asked Ichiro -- through his interpreter, Ken Barron -- what was up.

"Yes, I was asked,'' he confirmed to me earlier today. "But because of my hamstring, I decided not to participate.''

That would be the hamstring he felt tightness in this week. Which caused him not to start that series finale in Oakland, though he entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Kenji Johjima in the eighth.

Ichiro approached both interim GM Lee Pelekoudas and manager Jim Riggleman for their input. Both had obviously been aware of the hamstring issue. Riggleman had even tried to get Ichiro to take a day off.

"It was discussed,'' Pelekoudas said. "I think it would have been nice for him to participate if he wanted to. You watch him in batting practice and he puts on a show.''

Riggleman agreed.

"I think he would have won the thing,'' he said.

Riggleman said he was approached several days ago, by an interpreter for Ichiro, and asked for his opinions about him participating.

"I didn't hear anything else about it and sort of forgot about the whole thing,'' Riggleman said. "Then, I was told just the other day that he wasn't going to do it.''

Ichiro still plans to play in the All-Star Game itself. He just won't be answering any of those questions we've long had about his power and ability to belt home runs at will. We know he can do it in BP. It would have been nice to see him try on a bigger stage, in front of a huge crowd with millions watching on TV. Though he did do it in last year's All Star game (an inside-the-parker, mind you). Remember, he's hit 36 singles in a row. Not every singles hitter gets a shot at winning a Home Run Derby. For now, fans will have to wait another year and cross their fingers. For him to first be invited. Then, to actually accept.

Watch our video tour of Kauffman Stadium above.

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July 12, 2008 8:00 PM

Morrow blows another

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Brandon Morrow got the first two outs of the ninth, then walked Billy Butler. David DeJesus hit the next pitch into the right field bullpen to hand the Mariners a 5-4 loss. Stunning development.

A good job by Jarrod Washburn in not letting that 39-pitch first inning do him in. Washburn held on and stayed in the game for six innings, throwing 111 pitches. The bullpen took over from there, with Sean Green and Arthur Rhodes carrying things though to the ninth and Morrow getting the first two outs.

But it was not to be.

One of you, I believe it was ScottM, brought up the point about all the mental miscues tonight. Well, it might have gone unnoticed in most of the post-game discussion here so far, but I can tell you the Mariners noticed. Mariners manager Jim Riggleman addressed the players post-game and let them know they can't keep giving away extra outs or ruining chances at extra runs.

"I just reminded them that we do not have an offensive club out there right now that's going to overcome a lot of mistakes,'' Riggleman said after his team's sixth loss in seven games. "Things happen that we have to minimize because we are not scoring seven or eight runs a game.''

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Continue reading this post ...

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July 12, 2008 5:48 PM

Mariners at Kansas City Royals: 07/12 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Christmas just came early for the Mariners, who scored four runs in the sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead. It's apparently driving the fans here to drink. All of the runs were off ex-Mariners starter Gil Meche. Raul Ibanez hit the team's first home run by anyone other than Richie Sexson since Jeff Clement went deep last Saturday. That was a two-run shot to get Seattle back within a run. Jose Vidro and Adrian Beltre then added singles with one out. Jeremy Reed then lined one into the left field corner to bring both runners home. Reed went to third on the throw back in, but then foolishly tried to score when the ball got away from the catcher.

He was easily thrown out at the plate and the inning died soon after. With only one out, you can't be sprinting home in a one-run game like Reed just did. I know he wanted to catch the Royals off-guard, but there's the element of surprise and then the element of delusion. You hold your ground when you're at third with less than two out. Even if it's the M's hitting.

Jarrod Washburn begins the bottom of the sixth at only 88 pitches. He's allowed just the one earned run. A pretty good performance considering how it began. He stands to win this game.

Hey, if you're bored, be sure to watch our latest video, down below.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 12, 2008 2:17 PM

Hulett makes debut

Posted by Geoff Baker

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They just took the tarps off the field. It's been raining most of the day in Kansas City, but the sun is just starting to peek out. Not in time for batting practice. That's been cancelled. Remember, it's a 4:10 p.m. (Pacific) start time.

Tug Hulett makes his major league debut tonight at...DH. Yes, you read that right. A 5-foot-8 designated hitter. Believe me, he was a bit surprised at it as well. But sounds confident. Can't do any worse than the other guys this team has run through there. No, he isn't "protecting'' Raul Ibanez. That'll still be Jose Vidro, tonight's first baseman. Hulett will bat eighth. He was primarily a second baseman and shortstop in Class AAA Tacoma.

"I'm not really your prototype DH,'' Hulett said, not realizing that -- on this team at least -- he actually is. "I know that's what everybody's saying. A five-eight DH? Let's see that.''

Anyhow, Hulett proving that size doesn't always matter was nothing new during his climb to the big leagues.

"I've always had to do that,'' he agreed.

Don't forget to take our latest stadium video tour, by clicking above.

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July 12, 2008 9:01 AM

Video tour of trip, Kauffman Stadium

Posted by Geoff Baker

So, I thought we'd get away from baseball talk just a bit this morning. Here's our latest video. I took it on the trip to Kansas City, from Houston, Texas, where I'd bunked over at the airport hotel after barely catching that harried flight out of San Francisco right after the game in Oakland on Thursday. It was the best way to make it here on-time, with the time difference, instead of having to wake up at 4 a.m. and fight rush hour traffic to be at yesterday's game. And you thought this job was just sitting in a chair, crunching some numbers and trying to sound like an expert? Hah. Anyhow, you'll see the drive in to KC, to the Country Club Plaza section of town, then back off to the ballpark, Kauffman Stadium, which is right next to Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL Chiefs. Then, we take a tour of Kauffman Stadium, which opened in 1973 and is presently undergoing a $250 million renovation. Most of it will be done by Opening Day 2009. But they've already installed an HD video scoreboard, one of the largest in the country. They plan to build a concourse with restaurants all along the back of the stadium, behind the outfield fence. And they'll put seats atop those famed waterfalls behind the fance as well. Hope you enjoy it!

OK, I lied, we will talk a little baseball. Been reading from a lot of you (and not specifically Brian L., there have been plenty, he was just the latest to raise the issue) that Erik Bedard, when he's actually in games, is performing exactly the way he did in Baltimore, so none of us should be surprised. Sorry, I just can't stand to listen to that any longer. Those of you who want to make this into a pitch count thing, well, I'm sure you know better. It's not about the pitch counts. It's about the innings Bedard is throwing with those pitch counts. The guy Seattle traded five players for had 14 starts last season of at least seven innings. This season, he has only three. None since May.

He had only five starts last season in which he didn't go at least six innings. This year, he's already had eight starts of fewer than six frames.

That's the beef in a nutshell. Anyone with ace pretensions has to be able to go seven innings on a regular basis and let the bullpen be set up in the best possible way. Bedard is not doing what he did last season. Not even close. So please, let's stop saying otherwise. Maybe he's hurt, true. But the bottom line is, he has not produced what was expected. Has not delivered the innings of a top-of-the-rotation starter.

As for Luke Hochevar, I'm well aware of who he is. Know all about his stuff, his potential. So far, though, he's been mediocre. Had given up 13 runs over 10 innings in his last two starts. Had gone more than six innings against only one other AL team, that being the Baltimore Orioles, and that start came back in early May. Make that two teams. The M's have a habit out of making any young pitcher with potential look good lately. Which was kind of the point being made. Yes, he'd look good in Seattle's rotation right now.

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