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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 27, 2008 8:53 AM

Washburn still pitching today

Posted by Geoff Baker

tor0727 013.jpg

The picture above is of today's starting center fielder for the Mariners. Nope, it's not Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner. It's Jeremy Reed. Willie Bloomquist is the backup. And yes, Jarrod Washburn is still the slated starting pitcher.

Last I saw Washburn, he was sleeping on a couch in the visiting team's clubhouse here. There's little chance something would happen at the last minute. Remember, he has to sign-off on any deal. Once he's in the bullpen warming up, he can't take any calls. So, if you're hoping that a deal with the Yankees will be completed, just pray he doesn't get run over while taking a throw at home plate or something. Nah, something like that could never happen, right?

Anyhow, Mariners manager Jim Riggleman says he spoke to GM Lee Pelekoudas and was told there's nothing imminent. Riggleman added that he'd expect to be informed anywhere from 48 hours to 2 hours in advance of a deal -- not that a deal was going to be finalized, just a "heads up'' to be prepared -- in order to get his pitching lined up.

"No question,'' he said. "Lee would have talked to me about it.''

Well, we're within that two-hour window and he says he's heard nothing.

"I think, at this point, there's nothing that's going to happen (today),'' he said. "If something happens in the next five days, it's going to happen. But I just don't see it (today).''

Some of you have written in via email to ask why we haven't updated since yesterday's post-game. As we said during the Erik Bedard fiasco last winter, we're trying not to get carried away with all the rumors.

Here's what we know:

-- The Yankees and Mariners are talking

-- New York was apparently reluctant to assume all of Washburn's $13.5 million in owed salary, while the M's want the Yanks to eat all of it

-- At one point, New York proposed that Seattle take Class AAA pitcher Kei Igawa, owed $4 million in each of the next three years, to offset that Washburn salary cost

-- Seattle would want value if this wasn't a total salary dump. At this point is where the names of players like Cabrera, Gardner and Jose Vidro start getting tossed around. In other words, the M's get some value back in terms of an outfielder who can contribute to their squad at a low cost. The Vidro equation would see some more money taken off Seattle's hands and potentially give the Yankees a useful switch-hitter.

So, maybe the deal is simply a salary dump and nothing more. Or perhaps it expands to those other parameters I've just mentioned. But there is no deal in place. If there was, Washburn would not be preparing to take the mound.

Closest I've ever seen a player get to playing before a deal was struck? Without actually playing?

In 2002, Raul Mondesi was standing in the on-deck circle in the first inning of a game at Fenway Park. Before he could step to the plate, he walked back to the dugout and a new player came out. Mondesi had been traded to the Yankees (by Toronto) in exchange for a breathing body in a total salary dump. That body never panned out.

Needless to say, it was a long night of writing on a tight deadline. But with a pitcher, things are different. You can replace an outfielder at the last minute. Replacing a starting pitcher like that really messes a team up. So, I think this will carry over past this game.

Things to watch for?

Washburn's health, obviously. No collisions. No little arm twinges. His performance, too. If he gives up eight runs in the first three innings, the New York tabloids will have a field day. Also, let's see how he overcomes this distraction. It is a major one, no doubt.

tor0727 023.jpg

Gee, that Bryan LaHair doesn't mess around with the riff-raff in his fraternization with the enemy. Goes straight to the top. A look at LaHair, posing for a photo minutes ago with Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. Both men hail from Worcester, Mass.

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