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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

September 25, 2008 at 11:04 PM

Mariners lose in ninth

Ichiro scores two more runs tonight, giving him 99 for the season — and one shy of 100 for the eighth consecutive year. But the Mariners lose 6-4, with Vladimir Guerrero tagging J.J. Putz for a two-run homer in the ninth.
Sorry I haven’t been updating more tonight. It’s been a busy day, as you can imagine. Besides working on tonight’s story and reaction to today’s Ichiro story. We’ve also got Part III of our five-part series on the Mariners running tomorrow.
Putz said after the game that he threw a fastball that ran in on Guerrero’s hands. It’s a pitch he’s used on him before with some success. Not this time. I asked him whether there’s such a thing as making a pitch that Guerrero can’t get a hold of and he told me there wasn’t.
“He can be completely fooled by a curveball that’s an inch off the ground and he’ll still hit it,” Putz told me. “That’s how good he is.”
Putz added: “You can’t really throw him a pitch that he doesn’t like. That’s what makes him so strong. He’s a tough guy to pitch.”
Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said afterwards: “He’s been real good against us.”
“As much respect as we have for (Torii) Hunter hitting behind him, we still try to pitch around Guerrero. But there was no open base there.”
No, there wasn’t.
In response to some of the stuff that’s been asked tonight, namely, do I trust my source on the Ichiro story? Absolutely.
I tried to ask him about it after the game and he politely said, through interpreter Ken Baron, that he “wanted to pass.”
First time in my three partial seasons here that Ichiro has declined an interview request. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s always been accomodating to me. He didn’t talk to anyone from the American press today and I can’t say that I blame him. He’s in a no-win situation here on this story. But I tried.
Back to the story…
I’m sorry my “clubhouse insider” source has been the bearer of news some of you did not want to hear. I understand that. It’s OK to be upset at what’s come out. It should be clarified, however, that this source is actually an Ichiro supporter. Thought I’d made that clear earlier today, but some of it seems to have been lost in translation, judging from the comments I’ve seen here and on other blogs. Not to mention comments from Jim Riggleman and J.J. Putz.
There is no “coward” here calling Ichiro out. It was somebody who actually appreciates his style of play, but knows there are others in the clubhouse who do not.
Somebody asked whether the “clubhouse insider” is lying, or whether it’s Putz or Riggleman not telling the truth. I actually think they all might be telling the truth. Earlier today, I was talking with Larry Stone about this and we were trying to figure out how a team meeting might have been called to specifically address Ichiro.
It’s not like you could begin it with: “Now, we know some of you want to beat Ichiro up, but you can’t…”
Kind of awkward, no? It’s possible the team had meetings and addressed the subject of player jealousy in very general terms. We already know they had plenty of meetings. It’s entirely possible somebody got wind of the “knock him out” comment and called a player meeting that went over stuff in general terms without naming specific names of victims or calling out the aggressors.
We know that on the day after he was fired, former manager John McLaren had this to say about internal clubhouse bickering:
“The tension and jealousy has been there, and (it is) crystal clear,” he said. “The only reason I mention that, not to deter any criticism from myself, but to make this team better. If they can get in that room and work some issues out, they’ll be better off. Sometimes we get caught up in our own world.”
Here’s a story from that day, mentioning that McLaren had team meetings to try to fix the problem.
I’ve always wondered who he was talking about as the target of that jealousy. Was it Ichiro? Kenji Johjima? It was somebody, but we don’t know who. Have spent much of the season trying to figure it out by actually talking to folks. That’s our job. I’m sorry if it has some of you bent out of shape. You either want people to figure out what’s going on in the clubhouse or you don’t. Sometimes, you may be surprised at how different some opinions are from your own.
Do any of you honestly expect anyone to go on the record with anything about Ichiro? Especially after today?
Here’s some more of what Riggleman said earlier today, in regards to any meetings on Ichiro.
“I’ve had talks with everybody on the team, at some time or another, about something in their game — whether it’s a pitcher or whether it’s a position player,” Riggleman said. “Almost everybody on the team, at some time or another, I’ve said ‘I’d like to see you do a little more of this, a little less of that.’
“Some of that is based on vibes you’re getting from the team, that maybe they feel like somebody should do more of this or more of that. And you’re somewhat in agreement. You try to nip it in the bud. You don’t want the sniping. And I’ve talked about it with just about everybody on the team at one time or another. But has there been a meeting to address that? No.”
I was told that Ichiro was made aware of the way some of his teammates felt about him. Has it changed since this all blew up in April and May? I guess we’ll see. A lot of people have been moved in and out since last year. Some are still here. We’ll see who’s left in 2009.
But for those who don’t want me writing this stuff, sorry, that’s what we do. We’re not the same as a fans (or as fans, for that matter, LOL). I know many of you are upset by this. You should be upset. This team has lost 101 games.

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