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Originally published Friday, September 15, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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M's Notebook | Hargrove, Bavasi start bench-coach search

Mariners manager Mike Hargrove and general manager Bill Bavasi are already shopping for the field boss' new bench coach for next season...

Seattle Times staff reporter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mariners manager Mike Hargrove and general manager Bill Bavasi are already shopping for the field boss' new bench coach for next season. Hargrove said on Thursday that he and Bavasi "have a list of names that we'll go over — that we've started going over. And we'll fill that spot."

The development is an interesting one, given all the previous speculation about whether Hargrove would, in fact, be fired at season's end. It would seem a waste of time to include Hargrove in a search for his own bench coach if he is not in the plans for 2007.

Bavasi, who flew here Wednesday night with the team, confirmed that the new bench coach is being sought for the 2007 season and not the final weeks of this campaign.

"He'll be there by opening day," Bavasi said. "That's the plan."

First-base coach Mike Goff has joined Hargrove in the dugout for now. Daren Brown, the manager at Class AA San Antonio this season and now up with the team, has assumed Goff's duties at first base.

"I'm going to bring Goff in to the bench, but I'm not naming him bench coach or even interim bench coach," Hargrove quickly added. "He's going to come in and join the mixture [of candidates]."

The coaching vacancy was created by the dismissals Wednesday of bench coach Ron Hassey and administrative coach Dan Rohn. It was Rohn's departure that raised the most eyebrows and has fueled talk of Hargrove returning for another season.

Rohn was the longtime manager at Class AAA Tacoma and had been viewed by some as a possible successor to Hargrove. The team has been tight-lipped about the exact reasons for letting both men go with more than two weeks still remaining in the season.

One reason could be to give Goff a trial run at the job to see whether he and Hargrove can work together in the dugout.

"By doing it now," Hargrove said of the dismissals, "it gives Dan and Ron kind of a head start for next year. If that's what they want to do.

"And I think we felt like we'd come to a decision, and had we been in their shoes, we'd rather know now than the last day of the season."

Pineiro back in

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The surprises kept on coming from the Mariners as they announced Joel Pineiro will rejoin the starting rotation on Saturday and stay there for the remainder of the season. Pineiro was relegated to bullpen duty last month and has gone 1-0 with a 3.24 earned-run average in 16-2/3 innings of relief work.

His last five outings have come during Seattle victories after he went 7-11 with a 6.36 ERA in 24 starts. Pineiro credits his recent success to a lower arm slot at the point when he releases the ball toward the plate.

"I dropped my arm down a bit, and so far so good," he said. "We'll see how it goes on Saturday. Who knows? I could be back in the bullpen by then."

Hargrove said the lower arm slot has helped Pineiro release the ball more smoothly and keep his pitches down in the strike zone.

The addition of Pineiro to the rotation means the starting career of left-hander Jake Woods is over for now. Woods went 1-2 with a 3.40 ERA in five starts, but failed to last six innings in any of them.

Hargrove said Woods remains a candidate for the 2007 rotation, but the team wants another look at Pineiro — who could be non-tendered this winter — in the job.

"We just need to see if what he's been able to accomplish out of the bullpen can translate to a starting scenario," Hargrove said.

Confident Cruceta

Mariners pitcher Francisco Cruceta feels more confident on the mound than when he made his only two previous major-league starts for Cleveland late in 2004. Not surprising, given how Cruceta led the Pacific Coast League with 185 strikeouts this season. But he insists he would be just as happy notching quick ground-ball outs when he makes his first major-league start in two years tonight against the Royals.

"I'm not going to try to strike anybody out," Cruceta said, with teammate Rene Rivera translating. "I'm just going to go pitch. If they strike out, fine. If they get ground balls or fly balls, fine."

Geoff Baker: gbaker@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8286.

How the runs scored Thursday

Mariners first: Ichiro singled to right. Beltre singled to center, Ichiro to second. Betancourt grounded into a double play, third baseman Keppinger to second baseman Grudzielanek, Ichiro out, Beltre out. Ibanez singled to right, Betancourt to second. Sexson singled to left, Betancourt scored, Ibanez to second. Perez struck out. 1 run, 4 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. M's 1, Royals 0.

Mariners second: Johjima singled to right. Lopez singled to right, Johjima to third. Bloomquist grounded into fielder's choice, third baseman Keppinger to catcher Buck to third baseman Keppinger, Johjima out, Lopez to third. Ichiro infield single to first, Lopez scored, Bloomquist to third. Beltre hit a sacrifice fly to right fielder Costa, Bloomquist scored. Betancourt doubled to left, Ichiro to third. Ibanez flied out to right fielder Costa. 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. M's 3, Royals 0.

Royals third: DeJesus grounded out, second baseman Lopez to first baseman Sexson. German singled to center. Grudzielanek doubled to left, German to third. German was out advancing, left fielder Ibanez to shortstop Betancourt to catcher Johjima, German out. E.Brown singled to right, Grudzielanek scored. E.Brown to second. Shealy homered to center on a 2-0 count, E.Brown scored. Buck grounded out, pitcher Washburn to first baseman Sexson. 3 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Royals 3, M's 3.

Mariners fourth: Lopez flied out to center fielder DeJesus. Bloomquist safe on Perez's error. Ichiro homered to right on a full count, Bloomquist scored. Beltre popped out to second baseman Grudzielanek. Betancourt lined out to second baseman Grudzielanek. 2 runs, 1 hit, 1 error, 0 left on. M's 5, Royals 3.

Royals fifth: DeJesus doubled to right. German doubled to center, DeJesus scored. Grudzielanek grounded out, second baseman Lopez to first baseman Sexson, German to third. E.Brown walked. Fruto pitching. Shealy homered to left on a 1-1 count, German scored, E.Brown scored. Buck grounded out, third baseman Beltre to first baseman Sexson. Costa struck out. 4 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Royals 7, M's 5.

Mariners sixth: Johjima singled to left. Dohmann pitching. Lopez walked on a full count, Johjima to second. Bloomquist sacrificed, pitcher Dohmann to first baseman Shealy, Johjima to third, Lopez to second. Ichiro was intentionally walked. Beltre singled to left, Johjima scored, Lopez to third, Ichiro to second. Lopez was out advancing, left fielder E.Brown to first baseman Shealy to second baseman Grudzielanek to catcher Buck, Lopez out, Ichiro to third, Beltre to second. Betancourt struck out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Royals 7, M's 6.

Royals eighth: Snelling in as right fielder. O'Flaherty pitching. Buck singled to right. Phillips pinch-running for Buck. Costa sacrificed, pitcher O'Flaherty to first baseman Sexson, Phillips to second. On O'Flaherty's wild pitch, Phillips to third. Keppinger was intentionally walked. Huber pitching. Berroa safe on sacrifice plus fielder's choice, Phillips scored, Keppinger to second. DeJesus grounded out, first baseman Sexson to pitcher Huber, Keppinger to third, Berroa to second. German tripled to center, Keppinger scored, Berroa scored. Grudzielanek grounded out, second baseman Lopez to first baseman Sexson. 3 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Royals 10, M's 6.

Mariners ninth: Phillips in as catcher. Nelson pitching. Beltre homered to left on a 2-2 count. Betancourt walked. Ibanez popped out to shortstop Berroa. On defensive indifference, Betancourt to second. Sexson flied out to center fielder Gathright. Broussard pinch-hitting for Perez. Broussard singled to center, Betancourt scored. On defensive indifference, Broussard to second. Johjima struck out. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Royals 10, M's 8.

Mariners statistics

BATTERS Avg AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Navarro 1.000 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Morse .323 31 3 10 4 0 0 8 1
Ichiro .314 624 90 196 17 6 8 41 38
Johjima .299 445 54 133 22 1 15 64 3
Snelling .297 64 9 19 6 1 2 6 2
Broussard .296 385 57 114 17 0 20 61 1
Betancourt .294 506 62 149 23 6 8 43 11
Lopez .284 546 68 155 25 8 9 72 5
Ibanez .278 557 87 155 30 5 27 109 2
Dobbs .263 19 2 5 0 1 0 2 0
Beltre .259 553 75 143 36 4 18 68 10
Perez .256 168 21 43 10 0 9 30 0
Sexson .251 530 63 133 33 0 29 95 1
Bloomquist .244 225 31 55 5 2 1 12 13
Reed .217 212 27 46 6 5 6 17 2
Jones .205 73 5 15 4 0 1 6 3
Rivera .154 91 8 14 4 0 2 4 1
Bohn .111 9 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Team .267 5073 651 1357 230 39 146 607 94
PITCHERS W-L ERA SV IP H ER BB SO
Chick 0-0 0.00 0 3.0 4 0 1 1
Feierabend 0-0 0.00 0 2.0 0 0 0 2
Lowe 1-0 1.93 0 18.2 12 4 9 20
Putz 3-1 2.21 32 69.1 52 17 11 87
Soriano 1-2 2.25 2 60.0 44 15 21 65
Huber 1-1 3.38 0 5.1 6 2 4 7
Sherrill 2-3 3.89 1 37.0 27 16 24 40
Baek 3-1 3.90 0 27.2 22 12 12 18
Mateo 9-4 4.19 0 53.2 62 25 22 31
Meche 10-8 4.28 0 170.1 162 81 74 142
Woods 4-3 4.28 1 82.0 86 39 47 53
Green 0-0 4.50 0 32.0 34 16 13 15
Washburn 8-14 4.58 0 184.2 194 94 53 102
Hernandez 11-13 4.60 0 174.0 181 89 58 156
Fruto 1-1 4.67 1 27.0 26 14 16 25
O'Flaherty 0-0 4.70 0 7.2 9 4 6 4
Pineiro 8-11 6.02 1 154.0 196 103 59 80
Cruceta 0-0 6.75 0 1.1 1 1 2 0
Jimenez 0-0 21.60 0 1.2 1 4 3 1
Team 69-77 4.44 43 1303.2 1341 643 498 958


The week ahead

F
@ Kansas City

5:10 p.m., FSN

RH Francisco Cruceta (0-0) vs. RH Luke Hudson (7-5)

Sa @ Kansas City

4:10 p.m., FSN

RH Joel Pineiro (8-11) vs. LH Mark Redman (9-9)

Su @ Kansas City

11:10 a.m., FSN

RH Gil Meche (10-8) vs. RH Runelvys Hernandez (6-9)

M @ Texas

5:05 p.m., Ch. 11

RH Cha Seung Baek (3-1) vs. RH Kevin Millwood (15-10)

T @ Texas

5:05 p.m., FSN

LH Jarrod Washburn (8-14) vs. RH Edinson Volquez (1-5)

For the record

M's W-L PCT.
69-77 .473

W/L streak: L-2

At home: 41-34

On road: 28-43

vs. AL West: 14-34

vs. Angels: 9-10

vs. Oakland: 1-15

vs. Texas: 4-9

vs. AL East: 25-19

vs. AL Cen.: 16-20

vs. NL: 14-4

vs. LHP: 19-22

vs. RHP: 50-55

Day: 20-25

Night: 49-52

1-run: 18-22

Extra innings: 6-7

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