Mariner boss opts for more fire power

Bill Bavasi thinks Seattle bats will have added pop this year

SEATTLE ÑBill Bavasi had one goal in the offseason: make the offense better.

'We really upgraded by trading the (Mike) Cameron bat for the (Raul) Ibanez bat,' says the new Seattle Mariners general manger.

Ibanez will play left field, with Randy Winn moving to center to replace the Gold Glover Cameron, who signed with the New York Mets.

'Cameron's bat didn't match up well here,' Bavasi says, knowing Cameron hits home runs and strikes out. 'He'll go to another league and another park, and he'll do well. Here it wasn't a good fit. We think Ibanez can be a good fit here, being a left-handed hitter and able to take advantage of this park.'

So, what's the difference between Ibanez now and in 2000, when he last played with the Mariners and hit .229 with two homers in 140 at-bats?

'Experience,' Bavasi says. 'He's got discipline at the plate, and that comes with experience.'

With Ibanez and the additions of third baseman Rich Aurilia and shortstop Scott Spiezio, 'it's definitely an upgrade offensively,' Bavasi says.

'Although if Carlos (Guillen) stays healthy, it will look less like an upgrade,' he adds, of the shortstop traded to Detroit. 'We made a calculated choice to go with experience versus potential. We know what we have at shortstop, where before we'd be saying in the offseason, 'If Carlos stays healthy É' '

At third base, 'it's definitely an upgrade because we had zero there last year.'

Good to go

Trainer Rick Griffin reports nearly full health among Seattle's main players as they prepare for the opening of spring training Feb. 20 in Peoria, Ariz. Only reliever Aaron Taylor had offseason surgery on a rotator cuff tear and he should be back by June.

Freddy Garcia had procedures to fix his punctured eardrums, which happened during a flight in 2002. Griffin says Garcia, often inconsistent on the mound, likely did not have equilibrium or balance problems because of the bad eardrums.

Edgar Martinez started working out two days after last season ended before deciding to play in 2004. Mindful of his leg and hamstring problems, 'he's been working very hard on his legs,' Griffin says. 'He was asked (last year) by the ballclub to not try to beat out infield hits. That will be asked of him again.'


The favorite in the American League West Division? Look no further than Anaheim. The Angels signed outfielders Jose Guillen and Vladimir Guerrero, pitchers Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar Ñ'Starting pitching was their Achilles' heel last year,' Seattle Manager Bob Melvin says Ñ and they will have healthy players back in Darin Erstad and Troy Glaus.

In other words, they are loaded.

'But I think we can beat them,' Melvin says.

'They wanted to spend a lot of money,' says Spiezio, who left the Angels to sign with Seattle. 'I heard they wanted to be the New York Yankees of the West Coast.'