Mariners outfielder frustrated by lack of playing time

SEATTLE -- Frustrated by a lack of playing time, veteran outfielder Matt Lawton said Sunday he asked the Mariners to release him.

Lawton approached Seattle's front office late last month after
having started just one game all season, and after Lawton noticed a
glut of outfielders on the team. Lawton characterized his meeting
as his way of "trying to make everything easier," and voluntarily
offered to be released.

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.

"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.
"Obviously we know how it turned out ... but at the time, I wasn't
even sniffing the field."

Lawton is playing more lately, seeing action in four of the last
seven games. With center fielder Jeremy Reed struggling at the
plate, manager Mike Hargrove has recently used right-handed Willie Bloomquist when facing left-handed pitching and a combo of Lawton and Reed against righties.

Lawton believes he could prove his value if he played regularly.
Hargrove said Sunday he has no intention of altering his rotation.

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.

Under the new, tougher rules, a positive test would have meant a
50-game suspension.

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

Lawton said when he signed with Seattle he was made no promises
about playing time. He said he has heard that other teams are
interested in him, and would give him a more regular role.

"I came here to try and re-establish my career and if that
doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I can't really push the issue,"
he said.