For openers, Mariners tab Moyer

For openers, Mariners tab veteran Moyer

Been there, won that.

It seems only natural that Jamie Moyer, ever the elder statesman of the Seattle Mariners' pitching staff at the age of 43, will get the ball for Opening Day and try to set the business-like tone for a team that would like to forge a new beginning after two straight seasons with more than 90 losses.

Moyer bounced back from an uncharacteristically subpar 2004 campaign with a typical effort last year. He finished 13-7 with a 4.28 ERA, led the staff with 200 innings and then negotiated his own deal to come back and pitch another year for the team and the community he loves.

In fact, his affection for Seattle showed more than ever in 2005, when he went 10-0 with a 2.95 ERA at Safeco Field, the best home record of any pitcher in the Major Leagues.

Now Moyer takes his 205 career victories into yet another Opening Day challenge, this one a formidable, headline matchup against the two-time defending American League West champion Angels and their horse, the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner, Bartolo Colon.

"It's an honor to have the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter," Moyer said. "But it's one of 162 [games]. I look forward to it, and it's a challenge.

"It kind of puts you on call a little quicker, but I accept the challenge. I expect to go out and have a good outing."

Moyer will get help from a revamped offense featuring slugging third baseman Adrian Beltre and first baseman Richie Sexson, plus veteran designated hitter Carl Everett, who signed on in the offseason to provide more pop at the plate.

Behind the plate, Moyer will have the unique honor of throwing a pitch into the glove of a Japanese-born catcher for the first time in Major League history.

Kenji Johjima, who signed a three-year contract in November, has been working with Moyer all spring and has jelled with the pitching staff as a whole despite the fact that he's learning English on the fly.

"He's done a good job," Moyer said. "He's worked hard on learning the pitchers and what we like to throw, and I think he's going to be fine."

If Moyer pitches a good game, it could begin what the Mariners are hoping will be a much-improved season that could surprise a lot of people who are expecting a slow rebuilding process.

"Jamie deserves it," manager Mike Hargrove said.

"Pitching on Opening Day is an honor, and considering what he's done for this organization over the years and what he's done in his career, he deserves this.

"And we feel like he gives us a very good chance to win, which is probably 90 percent of the equation right there."

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Bartolo Colon
• 21-8, 3.48 ERA in 2005
• 2-1, 4.74 ERA in 2005 vs. SEA
• 9-8, 4.60 ERA lifetime vs. SEA

SEA: LHP Jamie Moyer
• 13-7, 4.28 ERA in 2005
• 2-1, 6.53 ERA in 2005 vs. LAA
• 18-14, 4.85 ERA lifetime vs. LAA

  Mariners probable lineup
1.RFIchiro Suzuki
2.SSYuniesky Betancourt
3.LFRaul Ibanez
4.1BRichie Sexson
5.3BAdrian Beltre
6.DHCarl Everett
7.CKenji Johjima
8.2BJose Lopez
9.CFJoe Borchard
PJamie Moyer

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• LAA: FSN West
• SEA: FOX Sports Net

On radio
• LAA: ESPN Radio 710-AM; 830-AM (Español)
• SEA: KOMO 1000-AM; KTFH 1680-AM (Español)

With a forecast for showers in Seattle, expect the Safeco Field roof to be closed.

On deck
• Tuesday: vs. Angels, 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: vs. Angels, 3:35 p.m. PT
• Thursday: vs. Oakland, 7:05 p.m. PT

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.