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Originally published December 11, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 12, 2006 at 12:32 AM

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M's agree to terms with starting pitcher Miguel Batista

The newest starting pitcher to join the Mariners doesn't want anyone pointing out how old he is. Right-hander Miguel Batista knows there will be skeptics noting he'll turn 36 before the season begins...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The newest starting pitcher to join the Mariners doesn't want anyone pointing out how old he is.

Right-hander Miguel Batista knows there will be skeptics noting he'll turn 36 before the season begins. He also knows that some fans here will be anxious about the three-year deal he has agreed to, which will exceed $24 million and cover him into his late 30s once all the paperwork is complete.

But Batista, a free agent who pitched last season for Arizona, today offered those folks the same words he did to general manager Bill Bavasi when they sat down together two weeks ago in the Dominican Republic.

"I don't care how old I am,'' Batista told The Times today in a telephone interview from Boston, where he is on a speaking tour of area schools. "When I met with [Bavasi], the first thing I told him is 'Let's get this out of the way right now. I don't pitch with my birth certificate. So, don't bring up my age.'

"I've only been hurt once in my entire career. You can rely on me because I will always be there to take the ball.''

The deal will be finalized once Batista passes a routine physical, something that shouldn't be a problem for a player who prides himself on his physical fitness. Batista's schedule is hectic these days – he began a book tour last week in Arizona to promote a fiction novel he researched and wrote – and the Mariners are trying to coordinate a physical that meets with his travel demands.

"They're supposed to call me back and tell me when and where to do it,'' he said.

Batista is a lifetime 68-79 pitcher with a 4.46 earned run average as mainly a starter, but also a relief pitcher. He was a closer for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2005 before being traded to the Diamondbacks, along with infielder Orlando Hudson, for third baseman Troy Glaus last December.

His latest stint in Arizona, where he won a World Series in 2001, helped revive Batista's career as a starter. He went 11-8 with a 4.58 earned-run average and is hoping for better things on a Mariners team that boasts a solid infield defense.

"I saw them in interleague play and it was amazing to watch how their defense was,'' he said.

Batista becomes the second starting pitcher added by the team in less than a week and the second free agent, joining right fielder Jose Guillen. The Mariners acquired pitcher Horacio Ramirez from the Atlanta Braves last week in a trade for reliever Rafael Soriano.

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