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Monday, August 09, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Bob Sherwin
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Don't forget about Randy Winn.
Winn, the Mariners' center fielder and No. 2 hitter, has been rock-solid at a high level for the past two months, but he has been in the long shadow of diminutive right fielder Ichiro. Ichiro has taken over the American League batting lead with a sizzling three weeks of hitting, raising his batting average nearly 40 points.
But Winn has turned around his season with hardly any fanfare. On April 24, Winn was hitting .194. On May 25 he had increased his average to only .224. And even by June 5 he was at .234.
But since then, Winn has hit .329 (76 of 231), including .351 in July, raising his average to .286.
"I don't pay too much attention to that. I know last year I had a better second half than first half," Winn said. "It seems to be shaping up that way, so far. I really don't know why and I can't really explain it.
"My mechanics are more consistent. I searched for the feeling early for what I had."
Batting coach Paul Molitor said there are no secrets or sudden enlightenment, just hard work.
"He has been really diligent with his practice," Molitor said. "He's an example of someone who repeats swings on a daily basis in high numbers and is able to carry it into games.
"Randy has a lot of things going on as far as his pre-swing movement is concerned. He had a little trouble early in the season on his timing. He got to the point he was comfortable with that and he has been pretty consistent."
Edgar Martinez will be honored at tomorrow night's game with a special benefit Edgar Bear Night. He will have his face and image on a stuffed bear with a Mariners jersey. The first 15,000 children 14 and younger will receive the bear.
It's part of a promotion for Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center in Seattle.
During the game, fans will be encouraged to "Fill the Wishing Well," on the main concourse in center field, with spare change to benefit Pacific Northwest patients and families at Children's Hospital.
In addition, fans have the opportunity to bid on items during a silent auction on the main concourse, behind Section 126.
Pop fly confuses Edgar
Martinez was a little absent-minded on a fly ball in the fifth inning Saturday night.
"I got confused," Martinez admitted.
He was on first with one out when Bucky Jacobsen lifted a giant pop-up into shallow right field. Martinez broke with the swing and rounded second. "I thought there were two outs," Martinez said.
However, the ball drifted far to the right of the fielders, who couldn't glove it. It bounced on the turf and Martinez was redeemed. He advanced to third and Jacobsen had a dome-aided double.
"It shouldn't have happened," Martinez said. "Sometimes with the way the season has gone you get fried mentally."
The same thing happened to Bret Boone, to a lesser degree, in the second inning Saturday. He was on first with two outs when Martinez lined out to second. Boone broke for second, then returned to first, believing it was not the final out.
Spiezio not in swing of things
Scott Spiezio has sunk to lows that no one could have anticipated when he signed a three-year contract with the Mariners before the season.
Spiezio, hitting just .206 with nine home runs and 34 runs batted in, has not driven in a run in his last 14 games, hitting just .173 (9 of 52) with one extra-base hit in those games. He started at first yesterday and had a single in four at-bats.
"He has gotten better swings. He has hit some balls right at (fielders)," Melvin said. "But it's going to take a few hits. Sometimes you get into that hole that you feel you can't dig your way out, especially when you look at your average in August and it's 2-0-something.
"He's a guy we brought in here for a reason. Granted, he's having an off-year but there are games left to where he can make it a better year."
Melvin remembers telling the minor-league pitchers in spring training that even though the club used the same five starters in 2003 and there didn't seem to be much movement, "it can change quickly," he said.
It has, as seven pitchers who were on the opening day roster with the Rainiers are now in Mariners uniforms. One of them, Bobby Madritsch, is in the rotation and will make his home starting debut Wednesday against Minnesota.
"He has a presence on (the) mound and says, 'Here it is. I don't think you can hit it,' " Melvin said. "We've had a little apprehension with our body language out there. We haven't had too many good starts from our younger guys.
"He (Madritsch) believes. A lot of times, especially on the big-league level, that has a lot to do with it."
Melvin exchanged lineup cards with the umpires before the game and had no trouble.
He was thrown out during the exchange Saturday after complaining about the umpire's decision in Friday's game. "I won't have much to say," Melvin said before the game. "Who knows if they have any surprises for me."
Raul Ibanez missed his second straight game with a slight strain in his side. "He was throwing some balls to some bases (Friday) and he felt a little pull on his side," Melvin said. "He took some swings in the cage and he had to shut it down." It's not expected to sideline him for long.
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