SEATTLE -- A former Mariner goes into the Hall of Fame next month. No, not that Hall of Fame. John Olerud, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Tuesday night's game against the Red Sox, spent four-plus seasons (2000-'04) with the Mariners and helped the '01 team set the American League record for most wins in a season with 116, and he will be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.More
The former Washington State Cougar star batted .434 with 33 home runs during his WSU career, and he also posted a 26-4 record as a pitcher. He recently was ranked as the sixth-best college player of all-time, and he went directly from Pullman to the Major Leagues in 1989 after being selected by the Blue Jays in the third round of the First-Year Player Draft. The sweet-swinging, smooth-fielding first baseman, who also played for the Mets (1997-99), Yankees (49 games in '04) and Red Sox (87 games in '05), finished his big-league career with 2,239 hits, 255 home runs and 1,230 RBIs. He was a two-time All-Star, in 1993 with the Jays when he won the AL batting title with a .363 average, and in '01 with the Mariners, when practically the entire starting lineup was selected to the AL squad for the Midsummer Classic played at Safeco Field. A defensive wiz, as well, Olerud won Gold Glove Awards with the Mariners in 2000, '02 and '03. "John was as steady and consistent as anybody in the game," manager Mike Hargrove said. "Any manager likes the kind of player that you know what you're going to get out of him day-to-day, and you knew what you'd get from John. He had a good glove, intelligent, and played the game the way it was supposed to be played. He was a very good player for a long time." Mariners coach John Moses said Olerud was one of the quietest players he ever was around.
"Very quiet, but very funny," Moses said. "He didn't say much, but when he did say something, it usually was really funny."Olerud will be inducted, along with his college coach, Chuck "Bobo" Brayton, next Wednesday in Lubbock, Texas. Others in the class of '07 are former Major League players Jim Abbott (Michigan), Pete Incaviglia (Oklahoma State) and Fred Lynn (Southern California). Already a member of the WSU Hall of Fame, Olerud said it is a "great honor" to be a part of the collegiate Hall of Fame "and going in with coach Brayton makes it even more special." Olerud, who makes his year-around home in the Seattle area, said he's having a new home built in Clyde Hill, and he stays busy with family-related activities. And he still occasionally has flashbacks to the '01 season. "It was an unbelievable year," he said. "Even the World Series teams I played on with the Blue Jays didn't win like that. Our luck ran out in the playoffs, but it was an unbelievable year. The thing about us, compared to the Yankees team that won something like 114 games, they were loaded with superstar-type guys. We had a lot of good, solid players who kept coming up with clutch hits." Beaver power: Speaking of Pac-10 baseball, backup catcher Jamie Burke remains on cloud nine after his alma mater captured its second straight NCAA title. Burke was a two-sport performer at Oregon State in the 1980s, playing third base for the baseball team for two seasons and place-kicking for the football team. "I stay away from any trash-talking, so I haven't said much about it," Burke said, "but I'm really proud of them, especially for [coach Pat Casey]. "I'll probably call him when things settle down." Burke said neither of the two Beaver baseball teams reached the postseason in 1992 or '93. But OSU won the North Pac portion of the Pac-10 in '94, but wasn't even invited to the NCAA Tournament. The Beavers had a 10-14 Pac-10 record this past season, received an invite nonetheless and captured the national title. "It all comes around," Burke said, adding that he hopes the Mariners organization invites the national champs to a future Mariners game, "so Pat can throw the [ceremonial] first pitch and I can catch it." Headed to rehab: Left-hander Horacio Ramirez, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 25 with tendinitis in his left shoulder, begins a rehab assignment on Saturday with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. Hargrove said Ramirez would have a minimum of two rehab starts, and probably three. The goal is to work him up to 100 pitches before bringing him back to Seattle. Ramirez had a 4-2 record and 6.47 ERA before being shelved. This 'n that: The Mariners are the most difficult team to walk this season -- except when they play the Red Sox. Seattle is averaging 4.25 walks in four games against Boston, and just over two walks an outing against the remainder of the teams. With 178 free passes, the Mariners are far behind the Royals, who have coaxed 221 walks. The six walks in Monday night's game were the second-most in a game this season; eight versus the Red Sox on May 3 is tops. ... Left fielder Raul Ibanez probably is a couple of days away from returning to action. He has missed three games with a sore right hamstring suffered last Friday night against the Reds. "With hamstrings you really have to be careful, because if they do get worse, they can get to the point where he could miss significant time and we don't want that to happen," Hargrove said. Look for Ibanez to start against the visiting Blue Jays on Friday night. ... The Mariners went into Tuesday night's game with a six-game winning streak against the Red Sox in Seattle, winning the final five games last season and the first one this season. It's the longest such streak against Boston in franchise history. The previous best was five in a row from May 13-Sept. 13, 1989. No swoon in June: Monday night's win over the Red Sox assured the Mariners of finishing June with a winning record for the sixth time in the past eight seasons, including two straight. It has been a streaky month, starting with a five-game winning streak from June 8-12, and a six-game losing streak from June 13-19. Since the 2000 season, the Mariners have had the second-highest winning percentage in the Majors in the month of June with a 127-83 record (.605) going into Tuesday night's game. The Athletics are tops with a .633 mark (133-77). On deck: The three-game series ends on Wednesday with a matinee at Safeco Field. The main attraction will be Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsusaka (9-5, 4.01 ERA) pitching to Ichiro Suzuki for the first time in Seattle. Rookie left-hander Ryan Feierabend (1-2, 8.20) starts for the Mariners in the 1:35 p.m. PT series finale.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less