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Monday, August 16, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Larry Stone
The New York Yankees have an indelible imprint of Edgar Martinez's greatness, dating to his seven-RBI effort in Game 4 of the 1995 playoffs and his immortal double the following night.
So it was only fitting yesterday that in his final game against the Yankees, Martinez drove in the winning run a textbook single up the middle in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie.
Martinez said he wasn't focusing on the fact that it was his Yankees finale the first of many "lasts" to come as he embarks on a farewell tour leading to his retirement at the end of the season.
"I guess I haven't concentrated too much on that," he said. "Maybe because it's not really close yet to the time. In some ways, it's good I'm thinking that way, because it makes it easier just to go through the rest of the season."
Asked if he flashed back to his great Yankees moments, he said with a smile, "Now that you mention it ... I guess I really didn't. It will come back some time later. Right now, I'm concentrating on playing the game. Winning is on my mind right now."
Martinez authored several memorable moments on this homestand after announcing his pending retirement last Monday, starting with his home run in his first at-bat against the Minnesota Twins.
"It seems like it's lit him up a little more," Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "The fact he was not playing as much, I know that was eating him up, too."
Melvin said he plans to play Bucky Jacobsen more frequently at first base the rest of the way, opening up more playing time at designated hitter for Martinez.
With a pair of Japanese dignitaries on hand yesterday, Ichiro continued his hitting barrage with two singles and a home run, bringing his season total to 185 hits. His home run led off the first inning off Kevin Brown, against whom Ichiro had hit his first career leadoff homer in 2001.
It was Ohgi who first allowed Ichiro to be called by his first name only. Ichiro caught Ohgi's ceremonial first pitch yesterday.
Ichiro had never performed in a regular-season game with the Mariners while Ohgi was in attendance, though his former manager had seen him in a playoff game.
"To be able to perform like that in front of him, and play like that, was very exciting to me," Ichiro said.
Ichiro is on pace for 256 hits, which would be one shy of George Sisler's season record. Ichiro is 15 away from becoming the first player in history to have 200 hits his first four seasons.
"My goal is to have 200 hits every year, not just four years," he said.
Alex Rodriguez, who had spent the past two days in his hotel room, wiped out by a virus, returned to the Yankees' clubhouse yesterday. He said he drank 23 bottles of water in the previous two days to fight dehydration brought on by the illness.
"I was trying to break the world record," he joked.
Before Saturday's game, Rodriguez decided to drop the appeal of his four-game suspension for his participation in a July 24 brawl with the Boston Red Sox.
"I was going to miss three days anyway," he said. "To fight the one day, and then miss three additional days in September, I felt it was a moot point. I don't think I could have played today anyway. The only regret I have: I wish we had done it on Friday."
No fine for Melvin
Melvin said he has been advised that he will not be fined for the incident in Tampa Bay, when he was ejected before a game for protesting the previous night's obstruction call that gave the Devil Rays the win.
Asked if he had also been advised that the umpires acknowledged messing up the call, Melvin smiled and said, "No one said anything about that."
Melvin, who has been thrown out of four games this year, also revealed he wasn't fined for one of his earlier ejections against the Yankees.
"That just goes to show you that at least 50 percent of the time I was right," he said.
The Mariners don't expect a repeat of the problem regarding Bobby Madritsch's tattoos. Umpires required the rookie left-hander to cover up his illustrated arms with a long-sleeved undershirt before his last start against the Twins. Madritsch will start tomorrow against the Royals in Kansas City.
"I'm going to talk to (Royals manager) Tony Pena and see if he has a problem with it," Melvin said. "If not, I think they're going to let us get away with it."
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