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Originally published March 3, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 3, 2005 at 12:27 AM

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Mariners

Sexson, Beltre go long to start

If the first game was any indication, Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre are going to make Bill Bavasi the executive of the year in the American...

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. — If the first game was any indication, Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre are going to make Bill Bavasi the executive of the year in the American League.

The two sluggers, signed this winter to turn around last year's moribund Mariners offense, both did their thing their first time out for Seattle.

It may have been just a loosen-up for Cactus League play that starts tomorrow — a 9-3 win over the Padres in a morning B game on one of San Diego's practice fields at the two-team training complex — but a home run is a home run.

And when the two guys, who got a combined $114 million to do just this, immediately do it in tandem, it is an eye-opener if not an event.

"You hope to see a lot of that," said Sexson, whose first Mariners at-bat provided a 2-0 lead for right-hander Gil Meche's strong one inning of work. "It's tough to say it would be a regular thing, but it would be nice. That's why they signed Adrian, for sure. He can drive in runs."

That is also why they signed Sexson, who observed, "I don't like to talk about myself."

If he let his bat speak for him, it was eloquent. As was the bat of Beltre, who grounded out hard to third his first time up, then gave Seattle a 4-2 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to left.

"We both did our job," said the third baseman, who came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers. "We came to keep the team together, to drive in some runs and play some defense."

The similarity between the two and their debut damage was all in the scorebook, both homers out to left, both for two runs. And both off big-league pitchers, Woody Williams and Rudy Seanez.

While Beltre's hit the outside of the fence on an adjoining Mariners practice field, probably 380 feet from the plate, Sexson's just made it out.

"They both count the same," Beltre said. "It doesn't matter how you hit it, as long as it leaves the park."

Jim Slaton noted that while Beltre's looked more impressive, Sexson's was no less important for the club.

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"He really didn't get all of it," said the Seattle bullpen coach. "But he's so strong, that's what he can do. He still got the ball out."

The key part of all this may be the link between Sexson and strength, which has been uncertain since he twice tore up his shoulder checking his swing early last season when he was with Arizona.

Sexson noted that it had been nine months since he had hit a homer.

"The thing about hitting a homer in the first game is that it's reassuring," he said. "All through rehab I was able to do stuff, like walking on my hands in a pushup position, that others couldn't. But you can't tell until you go out and face some live pitching. It's good to know you can still do it."

Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or bfinnigan@seattletimes.com

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