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Originally published Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Mariners

M's notebook: Yanks have eye on Winn

With the Yankees desperately seeking help for faded Bernie Williams in center field, New York officials are believed to have renewed their...

Seattle Times staff reporter

TORONTO — With the Yankees desperately seeking help for faded Bernie Williams in center field, New York officials are believed to have renewed their interest in Randy Winn.

Thus, it seemed fitting that Seattle officials reversed course on Sunday's decision to activate veteran Dave Hansen from the disabled list and send down outfielder Chris Snelling, who rejoined the team here yesterday.

Yet the Mariners are saying there is no connection between Snelling's return and speculation about Winn, and that they simply changed their minds.

"We were a bit premature with the change and we never even filed it with the league," said assistant general manager Lee Pelekoudas. "But this has nothing to do with any other personnel situation."

Still, the reversal drew much attention in the Seattle clubhouse, which, like any other major-league locker room, can be a place of rumor and skepticism, especially with Hansen's left elbow healthy again.

Winn admitted he wondered if something was going on.

"I don't know a thing," said the outfielder, who is popular among teammates. "There's nothing you can do about it anyway. My job is to play the best I can, and whatever happens, happens."

Winn's name, among others such as Juan Pierre of Florida and Eric Byrnes of Colorado, was prominent in the New York media yesterday after the Yankees sent down struggling young outfielder Melky Cabrera and Williams dropped another ball in center against Texas on Monday.

The Yankees were known to have called Seattle about Winn weeks ago. On Monday, New York GM Brian Cashman was quoted in the media as saying he would being making another round of calls.

While noting he would not comment on personnel moves, Pelekoudas emphasized there was no more to Snelling's return than a change of mind, not a change on the roster.

"There is no crossword puzzle, no jigsaw puzzle," he said. "We just jumped the gun a bit on Sunday in announcing we were going to do something."

Pelekoudas added that the rationale for the change is to give Snelling more at-bats than the five he got in his two weeks with the big club while filling Hansen's roster spot.

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"And we'll be playing three games [in Toronto] on turf," he said. "We can give one of our outfielders a rest from that if we get a chance."

Hansen said he was not frustrated by the change. "I'm ready and I want to help. They said this helps the team, and that's what I'm all about."

Note

• One far-fetched, but possible, rationale for the original plan to send Snelling down is that the Australian had left his passport at home in Phoenix and could not come to Toronto without going home to get it.

But instead, Snelling had time to go to Arizona, fly back to Seattle and arrive in Tacoma in time to take batting practice with the Class AAA Rainiers before their game Monday, when he got word he was coming back to the parent team.

"I'm glad to be back," he said. "But I'm about the last person to know what was going on."

Willie Bloomquist's chance to extend his career-high 11-game hit streak was curtailed by illness. The utility man was supposed to be in the starting lineup last night, but had been sick since the team's flight Monday evening and could not start. "We're hoping to have him available at some point in the game," manager Mike Hargrove said. "But he was pretty sick."

Pat Borders is excited about any game of baseball, especially when it involves his sons, Luke and Levi, the double-play combination for the undefeated Lake Wales, Fla., team currently playing its way into the regional Little League playoffs. "Little Lake Wales beat big old Tampa Monday," Borders said proudly. "One more win and they get to the regionals."

• The Mariners had at least three hits taken away last night by exceptional defensive plays — two running outfield catches that cost them at least two runs, and a play by Blue Jays 1B Eric Hinske rescuing a ball that deflected off the bag to get Adrian Beltre for the last out of the sixth.

• With his ground out to third base to start last night's game, Ichiro has just one hit in his last 13 official leadoff at-bats.

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