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Originally published Friday, May 30, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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"Marineros" jerseys part of Mariners' salute to Latin American players

Players will don the same white home uniforms Saturday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field, with one distinguishable difference — the front of their jerseys will say "Marineros," the Spanish translation of the team name.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Mariners five-game planner

Today | vs. Detroit, 7:10 p.m., FSN | M's RH Carlos Silva (3-4, 5.14) vs. LH Nate Robertson (2-5, 5.88).

Saturday | vs. Detroit, 12:55 p.m., Ch. 13 | M's RH Felix Hernandez (2-5, 3.60) vs. RH Justin Verlander (2-7, 5.16).

Sunday | vs. Detroit, 1:10 p.m., FSN | M's RH Miguel Batista (3-6, 5.98) vs. LH Kenny Rogers (4-4, 5.88).

Monday | vs. L.A. Angels, 7:10 p.m., FSN | M's LH Erik Bedard (4-3, 4.08) vs. RH Ervin Santana (7-2, 3.09).

Tuesday | vs. L.A. Angels, 7:10 p.m., FSN | M's LH Jarrod Washburn (2-6, 6.54) vs. LH Joe Saunders (8-2, 2.76).

The Mariners have celebrated Latinos in baseball annually in recent years. In 2008, they will do so as Los Marineros.

Players will don the same white home uniforms Saturday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field, with one distinguishable difference — the front of their jerseys will say "Marineros," the Spanish translation of the team name.

It will be the first time the team has done so, and is the most prominent gesture of all of the team's previous yearly salutes to Latin American "beisbol."

"It is pretty cool," designated hitter Jose Vidro said. "You see a lot of players coming up and keep coming from Latin America. They're putting our names on top and putting the game on top.

"It shows appreciation that they [the Mariners] understand the things that we have to overcome to be here."

Traditional Latin music and dance and small ceremonies have marked the occasion in years past. So have stadium public-address announcements in Spanish, which will take place again on Saturday. This year, however, there is the wearing of the Spanish-language jerseys, which has also been done by the Milwaukee Brewers ("Cerveceros") and San Francisco Giants ("Gigantes"). Also, the first 25,000 fans at the game will get a commemorative souvenir: "Marineros" baseball caps.

"It was something different that we hadn't done," said Rebecca Hale, director of public information.

The team has taken bold steps with its marketing to Spanish-speaking audiences this season, launching a Spanish version of its Web site (www.losmarineros.com). It also continues to provide a Spanish-language broadcast for home games on radio, cable TV and the Internet.

"It's one thing to do a giveaway, but another thing to actually honor Latin baseball legends and basically the Hispanic community in-game. That's huge," said Alex Rivera, Seattle's Spanish-language play-by-play announcer.

The Mariners have nine Latino players from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the United States, one of the largest contingents in team history.

"Those guys, every day they put on their uniform, they're not only representing themselves and Major League Baseball and their families, but they also carry [the hopes and dreams of] all the Hispanics here that are huge fans and all over the world," Rivera said. "I know it's very significant to them."

Outfielder Raul Ibanez said wearing the jersey is a great way to pay tribute to those who paved the way. Second baseman Jose Lopez said he'll be honored to put it on.

"We know it's Latin American baseball day," Lopez said. "To win the game comes first, that's most important. It would be a good tradition to continue."

After Saturday, some of the jerseys will be auctioned on the team's Web site as game-worn merchandise, and some will be available for purchase in the team store at Safeco Field, Hale said. Vidro would like to keep his and hang it in his home.

"It's pretty neat when you are home and when you retire and you look back on all those years you played the game, you kind of appreciate that," Vidro said.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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