By LARRY LaRUE
The News Tribune
The News Tribune
DALLAS – Pat Gillick thought baseball’s annual winter meeting might be a slow one and on Saturday he appeared dead on – the most exciting Mariners news of the day was that they had scheduled a meeting today with Tom Lampkin’s agent.
The free agent, a 36-year-old left-handed hitting catcher who tore a ligament in his right arm last June, could be Seattle’s first signing here.
Will Alex Rodriguez be the second?
“As of this moment, we haven’t scheduled another meeting with Scott (Boras),” assistant general manager Lee Pelekoudas said.
But if Seattle hasn’t planned another meeting with A-Rod’s agent, others have.
The Rangers and White Sox will meet with Boras today, and the Braves apparently remain interested enough to have made an offer.
Rumor of the day here – and Gillick wouldn’t discuss it – was that the Mariners had told Boras they would match the offer of any other team, taking money out of the decision for Rodrguez.
What the Mariners did Saturday was meet with six teams, looking for a matchup that would land a productive hitter in a trade. They didn’t seem to come away much closer to a deal than when the day began.
“We’ll meet (today) with a few more teams, and maybe have a follow-up meeting or two,” Pelekoudas said. “I wouldn’t say we’re particularly close on anything.”
With right-handed hitting catchers Dan Wilson and Chris Widger under contract, the Mariners will try today to sign Lampkin, who has begun throwing since undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 28.
“He’s a bit ahead of schedule in his rehab, and we’re told by our trainers that he’ll be able to play some games in spring training,” Pelekoudas said. “Jay Buhner was playing seven months after his surgery. It’s a little tougher on a catcher, but in February it will be eight months for Lampkin.
“He’s throwing, but he still hasn’t swung a bat. He won’t until January.”
Until the injury ended his season, Lampkin had been the more productive part of a two-catcher system with Wilson, batting .252 with seven home runs and 23 RBI in justs 103 at-bats. Wilson, by comparison, had five home runs and 27 RBI in 268 at-bats.
As for trade possibilities, the Mariners are looking for the same player they were seeking at the GM meetings last month – a productive third baseman.
“Even if we get Alex back, we need one more bat in the lineup,” Pelekooudas said. “And if we lose Alex, we need two more bats,” manager Lou Piniella said.
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