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Originally published Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Notebook | Mariners' Hall of Fame will enshrine Martinez

Edgar Martinez's first crack at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will come in three years, and he's rated a longshot prospect by most analysts...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Edgar Martinez's first crack at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will come in three years, and he's rated a longshot prospect by most analysts.

But Martinez was a slam-dunk choice for the Mariners' Hall of Fame, and he will be enshrined in a pregame ceremony at Safeco Field on June 2.

The announcement came Wednesday from team president Chuck Armstrong at the Mariners' spring-training luncheon.

Martinez will be the fourth member of their hall, following first baseman Alvin Davis, announcer Dave Niehaus and outfielder Jay Buhner.

To be eligible, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the Mariners, and have been retired for at least two seasons. The voting is done by members of the Mariners' board of directors.

"Edgar is a friend, one of the greats in this great game, and a true gentleman," Armstrong said. "His contributions to this organization and this community cannot be overstated."

Martinez, a two-time American League batting champion and a seven-time All-Star, played his entire 18-year career in Seattle. He was named the American League's top designated hitter five times. Upon his retirement, commissioner Bud Selig announced the award would henceforth be named for Martinez.

Hargrove optimistic

Befitting a spring-training kickoff event, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove oozed optimism and enthusiasm.

"I am as excited going into this season as I think I've ever been in my 15 years of managing in the big leagues," he said.

"I don't say that lightly. We have a good bunch of guys. Our goal is to win the American League West. Anything short of that will be a huge disappointment for us, and I'm sure for our fans."

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On Meche, Zito

Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi had some frank comments about departed pitcher Gil Meche, who signed as a free agent with Kansas City for five years and $55 million.

Noting that Meche probably had the best arm of any free agent on the market, Bavasi said: "There's probably some fuse missing in his fuse box that makes it work on a consistent basis.

"Maybe Kansas City can find that switch and get it turned on. We think that the attempts made here were real strong. ... To his credit, Gil was willing to try a lot of things. Staying consistent was a real challenge."

Bavasi also addressed for the first time the team's pursuit of free agent Barry Zito, who signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with San Francisco. The Mariners reportedly offered him a six-year deal for $99 million.

"That was a special allowance by ownership to go after him," Bavasi said. "That would have been kind of like found money if we got him.

"We made a real good run at him. I really believe if geography didn't come into play, and San Francisco wasn't the perfect spot for him — and his parents — this is where he would have liked to come."

Spring invitations

The Mariners unveiled their list of 20 nonroster invitees to spring training, and as always it contained some interesting names.

Players with major-league experience included pitcher Aaron Small, who was 10-0 with a 3.20 earned-run average in 15 games (nine starts) for the Yankees in 2005, but dipped to 0-3, 8.46 last year and was designated for assignment in June.

Other pitchers invited to camp are Carlos Alvarado, Jorge Campillo, Jaime Cerda, Renee Cortez, Jesse Foppert, Justin Lehr, Brandon Morrow, Matt Perisho and Juan Sandoval. Morrow was Seattle's No. 1 draft pick last year out of California.

Also invited to camp were catchers Jamie Burke, Jeff Clement, Rob Johnson and Luis Oliveros, infielders Sean Burroughs, Gookie Dawkins, Rey Ordonez and Matt Tuiasosopo, and outfielders Rayon Lampe and Tony Torcato.

Notes

• Bavasi said the team has no urgency to address an extension for Ichiro, who is entering the final year of his four-year, $44 million contract. "It's a top priority, but the timing is not that important," Bavasi said. "I don't know if you want to believe me or not, but it's not going to be a huge issue. He's a special player, but I think Seattle is a special place for him, too."

• Trainer Rick Griffin gave positive reports on most of the players who ended last year with injuries, but RHP Mark Lowe remains a concern after arthroscopic elbow surgery in October. Griffin said the hope is that Lowe will resume throwing next month and "the projection is for him to hopefully get back to competitive pitching in mid-May or early June."

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