The Mariners should learn in the next week or so if they will open the 2004 season in Japan. The M's are currently scheduled to open the 2004 season at home with four games against Anaheim, but if the Japan deal goes through, the Mariners would probably open against Oakland.
Seattle manager Bob Melvin went through the Mariners' organizational meetings for the first time last weekend, the meetings having been held last year before he was hired. The first-year manager came away impressed. "The meetings went very well," Melvin said. "They get the scouts and the player development people together and get everyone on the same page. That way we're all going in the same direction. There's no infighting."
The Mariners have extended their working agreement with their San Bernardino California League Class-A Inland Empire franchise. The old agreement, due to end after the 2004 season, has been extended through 2006. In the past three seasons (2001-2003), the 66ers are a combined 231-189 (.550), including a 78-62 mark and a California League Championship this past season. Inland Empire has appeared in the postseason in each of the past three years.
LHP Jamie Moyer was honored during the World Series with the Roberto Clemente Award for his work with the Moyer Foundation, established in 2000. The foundation, which Moyer runs with his wife, Karen, offers encouragement, comfort and support to children and families who are enduring a time of profound distress, be it physical, emotional or financial.
RHP Gil Meche, who won 15 games after missing most of the two previous seasons because of injury, was named the American League's Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News. Meche won more games after missing two full seasons than any big-league pitcher since the Yankees' Whitey Ford. Ford was an 18-game winner in 1953 after missing two full seasons because of military service. Meche finished 15-13 with a 4.59 ERA in 32 starts.
RHP Rafael Soriano, who was called up at midseason and went from long reliever to right-handed setup man, was named American League Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. Soriano, whose improvement was so rapid the Mariners felt comfortable trading right-handed setup man Jeff Nelson, allowed opposing hitters to average just .163. He was 3-0 with one save and a 1.33 ERA in 40 relief appearances and struck out 68 batters in just 53 innings after mastering a changeup and slider in addition to an electric fastball.
2B Bret Boone was named to the American League All-Star team as the second baseman by The Sporting News. Boone was runner-up to the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano in the midseason All-Star voting at second base, but in The Sporting News voting, done by a panel of major league front office executives and advance scouts, Boone emerged ahead after hitting 35 homers, driving in 117 runs and scoring 111 runs while averaging .294.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 - The number of Mariners to win the Roberto Clemente Award for baseball and community excellence. LHP Jamie Moyer won it for the 2003 season. 2B Harold Reynolds won it in 1991.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I wish I'd have had a better second half, but I guess nobody expected me to do what I did, staying healthy and winning 15 games. Physically I wasn't tired, but mentally as the year went on it probably took a toll on me; all the winter ball I went through and the pressure of coming back to the big leagues." - RHP Gil Meche.
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