Mariners Odds and Ends

Any time you can add a future Hall of Famer to your staff, you do it. The Mariners did that this week, signing on Paul Molitor as the team's hitting coach for 2004. That was just one - albeit a big one - of several news items surrounding the team over the past week.

While Paul Molitor was in the building interviewing for the Mariners' vacant hitting coach position last week, manager Bob Melvin ran into 2B Bret Boone, who'd been working out with DH Edgar Martinez.

"The day that Paul interviewed (at Safeco Field)," manager Bob Melvin said, "(Bret) Boone and Edgar (Martinez) were there. I didn't see Edgar, but Boone told me Edgar said, 'What are we waiting for?' "

The Mariners are waiting no longer - they hired Molitor. Given that he is eighth on the all-time hits list after a 21-year career, and given that he wants to get back into coaching, Molitor seems to be a perfect fit.

"You knew what kind of quality Paul brought as a player," Melvin said. "We're talking about a special kind of player. He has a very high ceiling as a coach." Molitor has hitting credentials that are unmatched by any previous Mariners hitting coach. He played 21 years, averaged .306 over that time, had 3,319 hits, scored 1,782 runs and drove in 1,307. He had a 39-game hitting streak in 1987 that stands as the seventh best in history.

"I know it's a great thing to have a track record," Molitor said. "But this is their livelihood. They want to see you advance their careers and their opportunities to win. "I'm grateful that the respect is there. But you have to prove yourself, too."

Molitor, a seven-time All-Star, credits Denis Menke, a minor league manager of his, and Tony Muser, his hitting coach in Milwaukee, as setting the tone for his hitting philosophy.

"A good hitting coach is someone who knows his hitters well, who knows what they do," Molitor said. "He has to be available, to be a positive voice. These guys make a lot of money, but it's amazing how often they need that reaffirmation."

Some of those players are the hitters Molitor will be asked to work with during the 2004 season. The Mariners don't know what their roster will be, but given the offensive falloff in the second half of the 2003 season, there will be hitters who will come to spring training looking for answers.

"There are a lot of very talented players here," Molitor said. "They had some offensive struggles, but they found a way to win a lot of games. Some players had solid years; some could do better.

"I'm totally aware of what Ichiro can bring. Boone and (Randy) Winn had solid years. (Mike) Cameron is a guy who is on the way up. (John) Olerud, I know what he can bring. Edgar was one of the few guys I'd stay in the dugout and watch hit. I don't know what the final makeup will be, but I have a good knowledge of these guys."

TEAM NOTES:
The Mariners expect to learn this week if they will open the 2004 season in Japan...OF/INF Willie Bloomquist will play winter baseball in Puerto Rico for a month or so. He will play with Mayaguez, which started its season Nov. 1...3B Justin Leone, one of the Mariners' brightest young hitters, was named to the USA Olympic Qualifying Team, which is playing the Athens Olympic Qualifying tournament in Panama City, Panama, through Nov. 10...DH Edgar Martinez and 2B Bret Boone were named to the American League Silver Slugger team last week at their respective positions...While there is no word from DH Edgar Martinez on whether he will return for one more season, both manager Bob Melvin and new hitting coach Paul Molitor said they thought there was a very good chance Martinez will return.

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