Mariner Update

Today’s game

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

When: 6:05 p.m.

Where: Safeco Field

TV: KSTW (channel 11)

Radio: KOMO (1000 AM)

Pitchers: Seattle left-hander Horacio Ramirez (8-6, 6.80 earned-run average) vs. left-hander Scott Kazmir (12-8, 3.65).

Ex-skipper Hargrove back in the saddle

If there’s a part of the country as sparse and down-home as West Texas, it’s Western Kansas.

That, along with a deeply rooted semi-pro baseball team, has lured former Mariners manager Mike Hargrove back into baseball.

Hargrove, who abruptly resigned on July 1 despite a Mariners contract that continued through the 2008 season, said Friday that he will manage the college-level Liberal BeeJays.

Liberal, on the southern border of Oklahoma and Kansas, is about 50 miles from Hargrove’s hometown of Perryton, Texas. He played for the BeeJays in 1972.

“The last few years, (wife) Sharon and I had talked about finding an opportunity to give back to the people and places that were instrumental in my career,” he said. “I played for this team in Liberal right out of college. I was playing there when the Texas Rangers drafted me.”

Hargrove’s father, brothers and sister live in Perryton and they’ll have a chance to see him more often next summer.

The BeeJays play a June-July schedule in a league that includes teams in Hays, El Dorado and Dodge City in Kansas, and Joplin and Nevada in Missouri.

During Hargrove’s drive back home after he resigned as the Mariners’ manager, he stopped in Liberal and took part in “Mike Hargrove Day” at a BeeJays game. They offered him the manager’s job for next season.

“I honestly thought they were kidding,” he said. “They called again this week and I asked Sharon, ‘Do you want to do it?’ She said, ‘I’d love to.’ So I said ‘yes.’”

Hargrove, who remains on the Mariners’ payroll, won’t be paid to manage the BeeJays.

“It’s a chance to give back, to pass along something of the game to kids in a program that was good for me,” he said. “I’m not sure I’m done with the game. I know for the next year or so, I don’t want to get back to the big leagues, but at some point who knows? I’m not ruling it out.”

Weaver stays in the rotation: Jeff Weaver has averaged less that 323 innings in his past four starts, including a 113-inning flop Thursday when he gave up five runs to the Devil Rays.

Still, Weaver will get the ball again Tuesday when his turn in the rotation comes up again. Here’s manager John McLaren’s explanation:

“At one time, he was an innings pitcher for us and he was winning games for us,” McLaren said. “I know he’s capable of doing it.”

Weaver hasn’t won since Aug. 23, when he beat the Texas Rangers. That was five starts ago.

In the meantime, the Mariners have all but fallen from playoff contention and have pitchers like Ryan Feierabend, Jorge Campillo and Ryan Rowland-Smith who they’d like to see as starters.

McLaren said the situation would be different involving Weaver and Horacio Ramirez, who also remains in the rotation despite several poor starts, if the Mariners weren’t still mathematically alive in the wild card.

“A lot of things would be different,” he said.

Of note: Relief pitcher Arthur Rhodes, who has missed all season because of elbow ligament surgery, will meet with Dr. Lewis Yocum next week in Anaheim and hopes to receive clearance to begin throwing. … The Mariners honored four employees during a pregame ceremony — Steve Jongewaard as their amateur scout of the year, Wayne Norton as international scout of the year, Chris Pelekoudas as pro scout of the year and Scott Budner, pitching coach for the Class A High Desert Mavericks, as the player development staffer of the year.

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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