WASHINGTON -- A record Mariners hitting coach Don Baylor took most of his career to secure hangs by a thread.
The reigning Major League hit-by-pitch king has a five-plunk lead over Astros veteran Craig Biggio, who is bearing down on Baylor's record of 267.
Baylor began his march to the record in the only game he played for the Orioles in 1970. He had three at-bats in that game and was hit by a pitch once. He kept getting hit with pitches, right through the 1988 season, his last as a player, when he was nailed 12 times.
His single-season high was 35 in 1986, when he played with the Red Sox. That mark is still the American League record.
Baylor broke Ron Hunt's record. Hunt, a journeyman infielder who played for six teams, was hit by pitches 243 times in his career, including a Major League-record 50 times in 1971.
"He wore a rubber diver's suit underneath his uniform," Baylor scoffed. "I wore long johns, and that was about it."
Baylor said he never felt comfortable wearing any kind of padding, and wasn't about to back off the plate, regardless how many times pitches hit him.
"I always believed that If I wasn't playing football, I didn't need pads," he said.
Of course, that mind-set was certainly painful at times.
Baylor said the most memorable HBP came in a game against the Mariners at the Kingdome in the mid-1980s.
"Matt Young threw a hard slider that got me on my [right] shin," he said. "It felt like a fastball, and to this day, I still have a lump there."
Another pitch that hit him hard was thrown by Hall of Fame right-hander Nolan Ryan, one of the hardest throwers in history.
"Got me on my [left] wrist," Baylor said.
That one hurt so bad Baylor summoned legendary Orioles trainer Ralph Salvon to the plate for assistance. Some spray that "froze" the area that absorbed the brunt of the pitch deadened the pain and Baylor went to first base.
"That was the one and only time the trainer came out of the dugout," Baylor said. "I never missed a game or an at-bat because I was hit with a pitch."
And when he moved on to other organizations, Baylor always had a little chat with the team's trainer.
"I told the trainer that if he ever came out after I got hit by a pitch, 'I'll kill ya.' I was not going to show anyone that it bothered me," Baylor said.
Baylor isn't sure which pitcher hit him the most times, but he does recall getting hit by right-hander Bruce Kison in back-to-back at-bats, and said he charged the mound three times -- against John Denny, Dennis Leonard and Dick Pole.
"Kison thought he could get me out of the game by hitting me on the forearm, but I told him he didn't throw hard enough to hurt me and get me out of the game," Baylor said, smiling.
As for Biggio closing in on his record, Baylor said, "I have always admired him as a player. He could take a HBP and turn it into a double by stealing a base."
All in the family: Andy Hargrove, the Mariners' 47th round draft choice out of Kent State and son of manager Mike Hargrove, signed a contract Friday and will report to Peoria, Ariz., on Sunday. The 6-foot-1, 243-pound first baseman, will work out until being assigned to a Minor League club.
"I told him to work hard and listen," the senior Hargrove said. "It will be a good experience for him. There are a lot of good instructors down there."
As such a low draft choice, the young Hargrove didn't get much of a contract.
Asked how many zeros were in the deal, the Mariners manager said, "All zeros."
Ichiro Suzuki / RF
Weight: 170 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R
Not ready for a breather: Ichiro Suzuki, battling a rare hitting slump, could have gotten a well-deserved night off Friday. But he wanted to play.
"I talked to Ichiro today about [resting], but he said he felt fine and wanted to play," Hargrove said. "Anytime a player of his stature says he's ready to play, he plays. Sometimes, a guy just needs a mental day off more than anything, but he said he wanted to play."
Ichiro went into Friday night's series opener against the Nationals with a .304 batting average -- the lowest it has been in more than a year.
"He's been struggling for most of May and all of June," said Hargrove, alluding to Ichiro's .288 (32-for-111) average in May and 5-for-28 start in June.
Update from the infirmary: Right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano probably will throw two more bullpen sessions before being sent to the Minor Leagues on a rehab assignment. There is no set timetable for when he would return to the Mariners.
Shortstop Pokey Reese (shoulder surgery) was limited to taking grounders during pregame drills. He took batting practice Thursday in Miami and felt a little stiff on Friday. "He is coming along fine, but we decided to back him off a little," Hargrove said.
And catcher Wiki Gonzalez (hamstring) could be sent out on a rehab assignment when the Mariners return from the road trip.
Not a Texas kind of heat: The hot, muggy weather Friday had Hargrove repeatedly toweling himself off during his pregame meeting with the media.
"In Texas, you get hot under your eyes," Hargrove said. "Here, you get hot all over."
Did you know? The shutout win over the Marlins on Thursday night was the 17th by the Mariners since Interleague Play started in 1997. It is the most blankings in the Majors. The Braves have 15 and Mets have 14. The Marlins (12) and Astros (11) are the only other teams with at least 10 shutouts.
Up next: The three-game series continues Saturday night with left-hander Jamie Moyer making his second start since winning his 131st game with the Mariners -- the most in franchise history. He also is three wins shy of his 200 for his career.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.