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M's notebook: Suitors emerge in Boone discussions
Seattle Times staff reporter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While the Mariners are mum on all personnel matters, there are indications the club has been in discussions with several clubs about Bret Boone.
General manager Bill Bavasi declined yesterday to say even if there had been interest in the second baseman, but three clubs teams are thought to have inquired — San Diego, which previously had failed to settle a deal for Boone; the New York Yankees; and Boston. A dark horse could be the Chicago Cubs.
"The Yankees don't have a specific need for Boone, except they sometimes make significant moves to change things around," one scout said. "They're doing OK right now, but overall they need someone to pick them up, and Boone could be that for them. He's a pennant-race veteran."
San Diego's previous bid was said to have fallen short because the Padres, who have budget restraints New York and Boston may not, could not pick up much of Boone's salary and would not deal the one or two pitching prospects the Mariners sought, including Justin Germano from Class AAA Portland.
Minnesota, which had been hinted as a suitor, said it had no interest. Although Luis Rivas is having an off-year, the Twins reportedly are placing their faith in Nick Punto, whose lead asset is hustle.
Texas also was believed to have thought about pursuing Boone, but may have decided to stay with Alfonso Soriano, whose offense is far beyond his defense.
"Don't put a ton of stock in denials right now," one National League club official said. "At this point in the season, teams tend to be extra careful in what they admit because they have established clubs that may be close to a wild card, and while they may need or want to upgrade they don't want to blow it up if they can't work out a move to improve."
In published reports, the Dodgers, Rangers, Mets and Orioles expressed reservations or outright denials about acquiring Boone. Some clubs undoubtedly will wait to see if Boone is available as a free agent after the 10-day designation period is over.
The Mariners are thought to be asking for at least one player in return who has big-league time or is close to ready for the majors.
Whether a trade is worked out, Seattle is expected to end up paying all or almost all of the $4.6 million left on Boone's $9.2 million contract. If he signs elsewhere as a free agent, the amount of that contract is subtracted from the money Boone is still owed by Seattle.
Carlos Garcia is always busy. But with inexperienced players now playing the middle infield for Seattle, he is busier than ever.
"It's more work. I even talk to them during games when there's a need," said the Mariners' infield coach. "But overall, they're doing well."
Garcia said that shortstop Mike Morse had troubles in his first weeks with positioning, "but he's come a long way. Recently, he's a lot better."
Currently, Garcia's main task is working with second baseman Jose Lopez on double plays.
"Our work with both kids is mostly on double plays," he said. "Lopez has to change his position at the bag on them. If you don't vary, other teams will find the pattern and they'll come after you."
One thing Lopez is learning is how to use the bag — to approach it from the outfield side and stay behind it.
"The runner is not going over the bag to get to you," Garcia said.
• Chris Snelling might have started in left field last night except that manager Mike Hargrove had a chat with Randy Winn after Monday's game. When told he was going to get a day off after going 2 for 17 in the last four games, Winn said he felt better at the plate and asked to play. "So we'll give him one more day before he gets a rest," Hargrove said.
• Willie Bloomquist played a fourth straight day, this time at shortstop in place of Morse. "Willie's played well the last couple of days," Hargrove said. "Morse has been working on some things at the plate, so we'll give him a day off."
• Seattle took pregame infield practice Monday for the first time this season. "We had intended to take infield before the first game of every series, but we got away from it," Hargrove said. "I really don't know what you're accomplishing with it. This way catchers get to throw down to second, outfielders get to throw to third."
Most teams don't take pregame infield. Some believe they are helping opposing scouts judge arms. Others think players go through the drills halfheartedly.
"I hated them because of the throws I had to make at first," Hargrove said. "I had to make 96 throws every day. I counted. One year I was the only first baseman to take infield in the first half. We got Gary Gray at the break and I told him, 'You got the second half. I'm done.' "
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company