Mariners Update

  • Saturday, July 7, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

Nelson added to All-Star team: When the media descended upon Jeff Nelson in Texas, it was to ask if he felt snubbed after being left off the American League All-Star team.

“I pretty much kept my mouth shut,” Nelson said. “I mean, why get into it? We had guys who deserved to be there who weren’t going, but that’s baseball.”

On Saturday, Nelson’s diplomacy – and his right arm – made the All-Star team when Yankees manager Joe Torre picked him to replace ailing New York reliever Mariano Rivera.

“Joe called me this morning and we talked about the situation, then he made the selection,” manager Lou Piniella said. “He lost a right-handed pitcher and he replaced him with one, and Jeff deserves to be an All-Star. If Joe had needed a left-hander, he might have taken Arthur Rhodes.”

For the record, Nelson is having a spectacular first half, going 3-1 with a 2.19 earned run average and four saves. In 37 innings, he’s struck out 58 batters and allowed opponents a .120 batting average.

“The funny thing is, my wife wanted to go to the All-Star game because it was in Seattle,” Nelson said. “I guess now she’ll be going for sure.

“It’s a pleasant surprise, and no matter what’s been written in New York, I’ve always had a good relationship with Joe Torre. All year New York writers have called me, asked me if I’m glad the Yankees struggled without me.

“It’s ridiculous. I rehearsed what I’d say to them before we went into New York this year, and I’ll rehearse what I have to say before I see them again in Seattle,” Nelson said, laughing. “I never wished anything bad upon Joe or the Yankees. I’m a Mariner, we’re having a great year. I made the right decision for me.”

Garciaparra works out with team: They still haven’t signed their top draft pick, but on Saturday the Seattle Mariners at least got a good look at 18-year-old Michael Garciaparra.

The June high school graduate and brother of Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, Michael worked out with the team before the game at Dodgers Stadium. He took ground balls alongside Carlos Guillen at shortstop. He took batting practice.

How’d he look?

“Nervous,” joked Roger Jongewaard, the team director of scouting and player development. “I think he was a little unnerved.”

“I’m just trying to enjoy myself and take it all in,” Garciaparra said.

“This is fun.”

Did he take advantage of the situation to meet all the Mariners? Not exactly.

“I didn’t say anything to Ichiro (Suzuki),” he said. “I mean, what would I say to him?”

M’s need fifth starter: After the All-Star break, the Mariners will need to add a fifth starter to their rotation to replace the departed Dennis Stark – and the leading candidates are current Rainiers Brett Tomko and John Halama. Outfielder Scott Podsednik, called up Friday and used as a pinch runner, will likely be reassigned to Tacoma to make room for a pitcher.

Money matters: When Piniella was holding court in his office before the game, he was answering questions about Freddy Garcia – ‘He’s becoming a No. 1 pitcher’ – when general manager Gillick jokingly interrupted him. “Don’t say that, he’s arbitration-eligible next year and that quote will come back to haunt us.” Piniella laughed: “Pat’s already in the cost-control mode.”

Larry LaRue

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