OAKLAND, Calif. — When Edgar Martinez was their designated hitter, the Mariners spent a lot of time trying to work his potent bat into the lineup when they played interleague games at National League parks.
The rules prohibit the use of the DH in NL towns. But with such a stretch facing the Mariners next week — as they travel to play the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Padres in San Diego and the Diamondbacks in Phoenix — they don't have that predicament anymore.
Carl Everett is the DH, unless a left-hander starts against Seattle, and his situation will not be treated like Martinez, who last played third base in an NL-based ballgame — except for his ceremonial return to his original defensive position in his last game — and often was at first base.
"When we go without a DH, Carl will be the odd man out," manager Mike Hargrove said.
Everett has talked about taking balls in the outfield, in case he might get a chance to get in on defense. But that is not likely.
The difference between the leagues is usually felt most in relation to the DH. When San Francisco plays at Safeco Field this weekend, chances are Barry Bonds will be Felipe Alou's DH, which would keep him in the lineup and not tax his bad legs.
"I think the rules about the DH might have an effect on games," Hargrove said. "American League teams are built for the DH."
To be ready, Seattle pitchers have taken batting practice several times. As usual, no one shows any exceptional ability — even reliever Rafael Soriano, who was originally an outfielder.
"Pitchers all think they can hit," Hargrove said. "Hitters all think they can pitch. In most cases, neither is true."
The best AL teams usually hope for is that pitchers don't get hurt. Of course, Gil Meche already has tweaked a muscle in his left side taking batting practice.
Beltre aims high
After watching Adrian Beltre stick with his habit of swinging at high pitches, Jeff Pentland came to a decision recently.
"I can't convince Adrian to lay off that pitch, that umpires usually don't call it a strike," the hitting coach said. "So I'm going to join him. We're working on getting him to a point where he can hit that pitch."
Pentland said Beltre has the talent to hit and/or make adjustments.
"He's also willing to listen to what I tell him now ... but the key thing is that he's a talented kid. If he didn't have his ability, we wouldn't have a chance. But he's a good kid and a hard worker who wants to do so much better."
Beltre's slight uppercut swing works to his disadvantage as he tries to hit the high pitch square.
"With his swing, he usually fouls those pitches back," Pentland said. "He can hit. Believe me, he can hit. And he should be able to hit the high pitch, too. But we've got to get his hands on top of the ball, even when the pitch is high. We had a really good session on Tuesday, so we're working at it."
Going into play Wednesday, Seattle had the second-fewest GIDP's (grounded into double play) in the majors. The New York Mets had 35, the Mariners 38, the Chicago White Sox 40, and the Florida Marlins and Cincinnati Reds 40.
• Among AL teams, the Mariners have a whopping lead in triples. They had 22 entering Wednesday night. Detroit had 13, Chicago 11. Among all teams, the Mariners trailed only San Francisco's 27 and Colorado's 23.
• Meche, who had spoken of a sore back after running on the sand at Newport Beach, did his between-starts bullpen work Wednesday. "I felt better than I thought I would," he said.