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Originally published Monday, February 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Notebook: Ichiro gets to share the wealth

When Hiroshi Yamauchi transferred his shares in the Mariners to Nintendo this offseason, it was emphasized there was no change in ownership...

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. — When Hiroshi Yamauchi transferred his shares in the Mariners to Nintendo this offseason, it was emphasized there was no change in ownership of the team.

However, there was one slight change in the ownership of Nintendo this offseason.

In what is believed to be the first and possibly only occurrence of its kind, Yamauchi, the Mariners owner, gave Ichiro 5,000 shares of stock (worth $109 per share in the most recent close) in the company he founded in 1949.

Club officials pointed out that this was a gift from Yamauchi, "in observance of his single-season hit (262) record.

"I was surprised and honored, most honored," Ichiro said. "We all think Mr. Yamauchi doesn't pay much attention to what is going on with us on the team but when you talk to him you find out he doesn't miss anything."

Newspapers in Japan ran stories and pictures of the outfielder accepting the stock certificate in a January ceremony in Kyoto. At that time, Ichiro kidded, "I'll have to get a subscription to Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan Financial News)."

Brad Lefton, an independent TV producer who does freelance work for Japanese outlets, said that Ichiro's achievement, in which he broke George Sisler's 1920 mark of 257, "was infinitely more newsworthy in Japan. While it didn't seem to be that big here, it was huge over there."

Ichiro said that Yamauchi, "is very supportive of what we are trying to do on the Mariners."

Yamauchi has never seen his team play in person, missing his best opportunity when the 2003 trip to Japan was cancelled by the imminent U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"He told me that he just doesn't go to baseball games," Ichiro said. "But that if the Mariners go to the World Series, he will come to this country to see us play."


No round-tripper for Reese

Pokey Reese is not going to the White House this week.

As a member of Boston's 2004 World Series champion team he was invited by Red Sox GM Larry Lucchino to join the club's visit Wednesday to meet President Bush.

"I can't go that far on one day," said Reese, who started the season as Boston's replacement shortstop for injured Nomar Garciaparra. "I've missed time here in our camp I have to make up."

He said he was unsure when he'd get his World Series ring, but will also miss the ceremony when rings are given to Boston players on Opening Day, which is against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park.

When it was noted the Red Sox say that is a coincidence, Reese laughed and said, "Yeah, right."

Passing the time

With weather permitting four full-field workouts of late, the Mariners are in the lull stretch between the period in which pitchers build up arms by throwing in bullpens and batting practice and the start of games.

So Manager Mike Hargrove and his coaching staff are doing what they can to keep things interesting.

Yesterday's workout began with the whole team singing Happy Birthday to bench coach and camp coordinator Ron Hassey, who turned 52 yesterday. "I would say the Vienna Boys Choir is in safe territory," Hargrove said. "In fact, I'd say the men's choir from the local Baptist church has nothing to worry about, either."

With hitters facing dead-arm pitching from coaches, pitchers were given a break from their usual stand-around shagging for hitters by replacing their last-drill running with the power shag technique.

In what pitching coach Bryan Price said was a drill invented by minor-league instructor Gary Wheelock, pitchers are required to gather in center and take turns running down balls.


• Before games start with the 11-inning B game against San Diego tomorrow, Hargrove is watching his players' work habits and work ethics.

"The first 5-7 days of camp, you watch pitching," he said. "Then when you start fielding drills you watch to see how the veterans handle the ball. Once you're satisfied that's OK, you go look at some kids and get an idea of their skills. Then you end up watching for work habits during drills, seeing if there's anyone you have to prod. I'd say we're attacking the drills pretty well. We allot 30 minutes a day, and I think we've cut them all short because guys have attacked the work. We only had to stop once, on pop-ups, when one pitcher didn't know guys' names."

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