<
>

Mariners' GM: Relationship with Lawton is fine

SEATTLE -- The relationship between the Seattle Mariners and
outfielder Matt Lawton is fine right now, general manager Bill
Bavasi said Monday.

Over the weekend, Lawton said he had approached the Mariners'
front office last month and indicated he was willing to be released
after having played very little and noticing a glut of outfielders
on the roster.

"I went to them in a friendly manner and just said 'Hey, I'll
be the guy you can send out' if they felt the need," Lawton said
Sunday.

Instead, the Mariners designated outfielder Joe Borchard for
assignment. Borchard, who was obtained from the Chicago White Sox
in a trade for reliever Matt Thornton during spring training, did
not clear waivers and was claimed by the Florida Marlins.

"We were just having a tough time getting at-bats at that
time," Bavasi said.

According to Bavasi, free agents signed in the prior offseason
cannot be traded or released without their permission before June
1. Bavasi spoke with Lawton and the outfielder said he is fine with
the current situation, but may be reassessed later on.

Since Borchard was designated for assignment, Lawton has found
himself in a three-man rotation in center field. Lawton has played
in four of the last eight games and is splitting time with Jeremy
Reed against right-handed pitchers. Willie Bloomquist has played
against lefties.

Lawton was suspended for the first 10 days of this season after
testing positive for steroids at the end of last year. Because he
tested positive under baseball's former program, Lawton had to miss
the first 10 days of this season.

This spring, he batted .367 with eight doubles and eight RBIs in
49 at-bats. Entering Monday's game, Lawton had just 22 at-bats in
the regular season.