The process of assembling the Mariners' replacement roster continues as the club's farm director, Jim Beattie, culls lists of players from the independent leagues in this country, as well as Mexico, Puerto Rico and, believe it or not, Italy.
"We've got a scout there," said Roger Jongewaard, Seattle director of scouting. "He sent us a list of names."
Then there are the phone calls. Just this week, former major-league reliever Doug Corbett called looking for a job with Seattle's replacement team.
Corbett, who was rumored to throw a spitball while saving 66 games with Minnesota, California and Baltimore (1980-87), is coaching at the University of Jacksonville.
"It might be fun to have a guy like that around," one Seattle official said. "He's been throwing batting practice to their team every day. We'd have to figure if that would be enough to offset his being 42 years old."
Jongewaard also inquired about former Mariner shortstop Brian Giles, whom he signed for the New York Mets in 1984 and for Seattle in 1990.
"He told me he has an offer from another club that included a guarantee of a position in the organization when the strike is over," Jongewaard said. "I know some clubs like San Diego are going that route. But we feel we can't. It wouldn't be right to play Giles or someone else ahead of Alex Rodriguez at Triple A, if that's where Alex winds up (after the strike)."
Bremerton native Terrel Hansen, a minor-leaguer with eight years of experience, said he has been invited by the Mariners to spring training and is ready to play in replacement games.
Joining him in the lineup could be outfielder Tony Barron, who hit .296 with 18 homers and 18 steals at Class AA Jacksonville last season. Barron was signed last year as a sixth-year minor-league free agent out of the Dodger organization.
The Mariners, as all other teams, will not put their top minor-league prospects on the field as replacement players.
"We'll remain flexible," said Woody Woodward, Mariner general manager.
"I would hesitate to put some of our better players in that position. But let's wait. My feelings could change or we may receive a different directive from Major League Baseball."
The Mariners said they will not conduct any public tryouts for replacement players, as other clubs have done. They have invited about 20 possible replacements to spring training, and aim for 40, along with 60 of their minor-leaguers.
"Let's be honest," Manager Lou Piniella said. Replacement baseball "is not going to be close to what you've been watching. The AA level is a good comparison. Let's hope it doesn't come to that."
Spring training is three weeks away.
Bragg draws raves
The Mariners are excited about the prospect of outfielder Darren Bragg as their leadoff hitter, after the reports and numbers came back from Venezuela, where Bragg played with Oriente.
Coach John McLaren, who managed at Lara for six years until this winter, said everyone he talked to raved about Bragg. In addition, Bragg led the league with 15 doubles and 40 runs, a whopping .491 on-base percentage and a league-record 70 walks in 273 plate appearances.
"Those are the kind of figures you love to see from someone who wants to lead off for you," McLaren said.
In addition, Seattle infielder Luis Sojo, playing for Lara, hit .376 to win the Venezuelan batting tile for the fourth time, tying Vic Davalillo's record.
The Mariners have offered holdout draft pick Jason Varitek $500,000, an increase of $50,000. "Our scout Dan Jennings called him to talk and Jason seemed really eager to get something settled," Jongewaard said. "Maybe we can."
Not so fast, says agent Scott Boras, who spent an hour on the phone with Jennings on Tuesday night telling him just that.
"The Mariners are certainly one of the teams Jason will talk to," said Boras, who signed Varitek to a contract with St. Paul of the independent Northern League and now claims he is a free agent able to deal with any club. "Jason's position is one of principle, not money. He simply wants the market value of players drafted near him (14th) who got $800,000 to sign. Why should he be penalized for going back to school as a senior?"
-- The Mariners announced that outfield fences in left and center fields will be lowered from 11 to 8 feet.
-- The club has sold 6,500 season tickets, 71 percent of last year's total . . . Plans to open the 1995 season in Japan have been pushed back to next year.
-- The six to eight games planned for Vancouver's B.C. Place Stadium this season also are on hold, pending the outcome of the labor situation.
-- Mac Suzuki, who was rehabilitating his shoulder in Seattle, has returned to Kobe, Japan, to help family and friends recover from the earthquake.
-- Chris Bosio, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee, threw six innings recently - in his home. Mariner trainer Rick Griffin said Bosio has set up a mound in his house, and reported no pain after the simulation.
---------------------------------------------------. Key Mariner dates
-- Feb. 15: Pitchers and catchers on 40-man roster scheduled to report to spring-training complex in Peoria, Ariz., plus players coming off injuries.
-- Feb. 16: Pitchers and catchers start workouts.
-- Feb. 18-19: Mini-camp for 55 to 60 minor-league players and 30 to 40 potential replacement players, including players from Class AAA, AA and, according to General Manager Woody Woodward, "a few A players." Woodward said potential replacement players will be signed to contracts and assigned to minor-league rosters or brought to camp by invitation.
-- Feb. 20: Position players on 40-man roster report; or, mini-camp for invited minor leaguers and potential replacement players begin workouts at minor-league complex.
-- Feb. 21: First 40-man roster full-squad workout.
-- March 3: Mariners, Woodward said, will start identifying players to play in spring-training games, a few minor-leaguers and a few potential replacement players.
-- March 10: Remaining minor leaguers report to camp.