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Originally published June 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 9, 2007 at 9:09 PM

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Notebook | Broussard settles in at the plate

Some regular playing time has Ben Broussard starting to regain his batting stroke. Not to the extent he felt it last season in clubbing...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Some regular playing time has Ben Broussard starting to regain his batting stroke.

Not to the extent he felt it last season in clubbing 21 homers and driving in 63 runs for the Mariners and Cleveland Indians. Broussard figures it will take more than a week's worth of starts to get his bat going to that degree.

But in his starts in five of the last six games, with left fielder Raul Ibanez and right fielder Jose Guillen nursing injuries, Broussard is hitting the ball more squarely.

"It takes a while to get a rhythm up there," Broussard said. "Maybe three, four or five days in a row, or a couple of good games. I haven't had a lot of those this year, so I've just been kind of in a battle mode. It's still kind of like that. Go up there and try to find a way. See if I can get it going now."

Broussard drove home Seattle's first two runs on Friday night against Toronto by bouncing a single up the middle in the first inning. He is 5 for 18 during the recent stretch of starts, with six of his 15 runs batted in for the season coming in his last four contests.

"If I get a couple of more days," he added, "then I know I'll be really locked in. I haven't felt like I did at some points last year when I was really playing all the time. But I still feel like I can get in there and really compete and still have a chance. That's really all I do every day."

Broussard is also feeling a lot more comfortable out in left field, where he started Friday.

That wasn't the case earlier this season, when Broussard let a pair of fly balls get by him in his first start at the position. Broussard has become a valuable utility man in left and right field, and at first base. The difference now, he said, is that he doesn't try to be more than he's capable of at any spot.

"There's going to be balls hit to me that I'm not going to get to, that might fool me because I'm not out there every day," he said. "I'm going to catch most of them. I think that's what I really try to work on. Catching the balls that I'm supposed to catch, just being smart, knowing where to throw the ball and hitting my cutoff man.

"Those are all crucial parts to playing the outfield. Being able to catch the ball that's maybe a little out of my range? Those are going to come. The more I work out there, the better angles I'll take."

The Grim Reitsma

Mariners relief pitcher Chris Reitsma was apparently the last to know his bullpen brethren had taken to wearing T-shirts with his name on them. The relievers began wearing gray shirts with the words "The Grim Reitsma" on them, complete with a maple leaf logo — Reitsma is Canadian — and the picture of a Grim Reaper.

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Seattle reliever George Sherrill and strength coach Allen Wirtala had the shirts made up shortly after a game at Yankee Stadium. Reitsma had gotten up in the bullpen when a fan in the stands shouted, "Hey, it's the Grim Reitsma!"

Reitsma went on the disabled list shortly after.

"I didn't even know about the shirts until I got back," he said. "I saw everybody wearing them."

Reitsma is on a second DL stint for tendinitis in his right elbow. He threw a bullpen session on Friday and is to pitch a rehabilitation outing for Class AAA Tacoma on Sunday.

After that, he'll throw another rehab inning on Tuesday, possibly for Seattle's Class A affiliate in Everett. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Mariners next week in Oakland.

Rehabbing Ramirez

Injured starter Horacio Ramirez will make a 70- to 75-pitch start for Tacoma today as he embarks on his rehab assignment. Ramirez is expected to make at least three rehab starts before the team decides what to do with him in mid-July.

"His last start will be on July 10, and then we'll see where he fits in our rotation from there," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "The whole idea is not to see if he's healthy. We're pretty sure that he's healthy. But to just get his pitch count up to where he's really ready to go when he gets back."

Calling Mr. 500

Frank Thomas, Blue Jays designated hitter, had a busy 24 hours after clubbing the 500th home run of his career on Thursday in Minnesota. Thomas hopped the team's charter flight to Seattle after that game, then spent a lot of time Friday returning telephone messages left on his cellphone.

"I got a million calls," he said. "Teammates, family, friends. People I haven't heard from for a long time. My old hitting coach Walt Hriniak, Robin Ventura. There were a lot of players."

Thomas didn't know two years ago whether he'd be in the game long enough to hit his 500th. A surgically repaired foot fracture had him sidelined most of 2005 while the Chicago White Sox were winning a World Series. He wound up signing a low-cost, one-year free-agent deal with Oakland last season before inking a larger pact with Toronto this year.

"I was hoping to [hit 500], but you just never know because different doctors were saying different things about the injury," he said. "Thank God I was able to get healthy and come back."

For the record

W-L PCT
43-33 .566

Streak: W6

Home: 25-15

Road: 18-18

vs. AL West: 12-10

vs. L.A.: 2-7

vs. Oakland: 4-1

vs. Texas: 6-2

vs. AL East: 13-7

vs. AL Central: 9-7

vs. NL: 9-9

vs. LHP: 15-6

vs. RHP: 28-27

Day: 12-11

Night: 31-22

One-run: 13-9

Extra innings: 3-0

Home attendance

Friday's crowd: 41,862

Season total: 1,240,501

Biggest crowd: 46,340 (June 22)

Smallest crowd: 16,555 (May 2)

Average (40 dates): 31,013

2006 average (40 dates): 27,567

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