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Martin still getting adjusted with Mariners

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 18, 2000

Al Martin has been in the major leagues for eight years, long enough to know his way around. But it's only in the past week or so that he's felt comfortable as a member of the Mariners, he said.

The veteran outfielder never had been in the American League before the Mariners got him from San Diego on July 31.

"I'd talk to my father, my friends, and they'd ask how I was liking Seattle," Martin told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "And I'd have to tell them, "I don't know.' I didn't know almost anybody here, and they didn't know me. I was struggling, too, and they had never seen the real me.

"I have rhythms and rituals, and all of that changed. I mean when you are worrying about remembering people's names and figuring out who you go to to ask for extra tickets, you've got your mind in the wrong place."

He said the worst was an 0-for-5, four-strikeout game against the Yankees at Safeco Field on Aug. 30.

"That was the worst game of my big-league career," Martin said. "But it's hard to do that when you're struggling and you're with a new team. You just don't walk into a new clubhouse with people you don't know and do that. It's only been in the last week or so that I've gotten really comfortable."

So comfortable that Martin, a starter since 1993, his first full year with the Pirates, doesn't have a problem being a backup outfielder. "I don't even care because this club is special," he said. "I just want to win."

LOST AND FOUND: When Baltimore decided in January to pass on Aaron Sele, fearing he had a problem with his right shoulder, the Mariners were there to catch him.

The Orioles were so close to getting the free-agent pitcher's signature on a four-year, $29-million contract that he had flown to Baltimore for a news conference. But after an examination by a Baltimore team physician, the Orioles withdrew the offer.

The Mariners were there with a two-year, $15-million offer. Sele signed.

After the Mariners' team physician gave his okay, general manager Pat Gillick said he was satisfied Sele's arm would hold up.

Said Sele: "The funny thing is, coming off back-to-back 200-inning seasons, and making all my starts four years in a row, there was never any questions. I saw a lot of the business side of baseball. That's basically what it was -- business finagling."

And when he beat the Orioles 10-2 Friday, Sele said, he wasn't thinking of how he had defeated his almost-teammates.

"This was a big game,." he said. "There's so much else for me to focus on. We're in the playoff hunt. ... That's what I'm focused on."

Sele has won his past two starts after a 2-7, 6.71 ERA stretch in 11 games after the All-Star Game.

"Sometimes it's just a matter of making a decision to do the best you can and live with the results," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "You get in trouble when you try to elevate your game. ... During the dry spell he was trying to be the guy to step up and pitch a big game. That's fine if you stay within the confines of your game and don't try to change your game. We just talked about pitching his game."

SHUFFLING ALONG: Manager Lou Piniella said he wasn't surprised when he heard that Oakland counterpart Art Howe altered his team's rotation with an eye toward getting the A's best pitcher, Tim Hudson, into the rotation for the teams' four-game series in Seattle.

Hudson, like the Mariners' Jamie Moyer also moved one day back, will start Thursday's opener. "I figured they would do that," Piniella said. "He's been their ace all year, so I figured we'd be getting him."

CHANGING PLACES: Last week the Mariners said they were switching club affiliations in the Single-A California League from Lancaster to San Bernardino.

Who's hot

Right-hander Aaron Sele has won his past two starts, allowing three runs in 14 innings and striking out 13.

Who's not

Shortstop Alex Rodriguez is batting .182 (4-for-22) in his past seven games.

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