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Mariners talk to Fehr about schedule

Mariners talk to Fehr about schedule

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners have been critical of their regular-season travel schedule this season -- seven of their 12 road trips begin in the East Coast time zone -- but not even the Major League Players Association could do anything about it.

"Seattle's schedule, because of the physical location of the team, is always the most difficult one to deal with," said MLBPA executive director Don Fehr during his meeting Wednesday afternoon with Mariners players at the Peoria Sports Complex. "We try to make Major League Baseball as sensitive as we can to the scheduling difficulties and added travel burdens that they have.

"But the schedule gets better or worse from year to year, depending on the Interleague Play schedule."

With the Mariners, and other American League West teams, playing the National League East this season in Interleague Play, there will be additional cross-country trips. The Mariners are scheduled to play three-game series in Atlanta and New York prior to the All-Star Game.

Other trips begin in Baltimore, Cleveland (twice), Detroit, Toronto and Boston.

By the end of the regular season, the Mariners will have traveled a franchise-record 55,000 miles.

Furthermore, there is only three, three-city road trips the entire season -- Atlanta-New York-San Diego from June 18-29; Los Angeles-Minnesota-Chicago from August 11-20; and Los Angeles-Kansas City-Oakland from Sept. 11-21 with no off-days.

Every other trip is two-city journeys.

While there is nothing Fehr could do for the Seattle schedule, he was available to answer anything the players wanted to ask.

"The most important thing we do all year is have these meetings," Fehr said of his annual pilgrimage to every Spring Training camp throughout the Major Leagues. "It gives us an opportunity to see the players, tell them what's going on, to solicit their views on things, and answer any questions on global issues or individual problems."

Fehr said these meetings are so important that he decided not to attend the historical Padres-Dodgers two-game series in Beijing, or next week's regular-season series between the Athletics and Red Sox in Tokyo.

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"I missed six of these meetings because of the Congressional hearings and this would have caused me to miss a bunch more," he said. "I didn't want to miss any more. This is a basic, gut-level politics, or however you want to put it."

Without being specific, he said players from clubs he has visited in Florida and Arizona have inquired about the Mitchell Report and how the drug testing program works. There also have been queries about how well the industry is doing and the next World Baseball Classic, scheduled to be played next spring.

"I'm not saying they are bubbling over and want to talk about it every minute," he said, "but I think it's pretty widely understood it will be played a year from now and there will be a ramp up between now and then.

"When we went into the one in '06, you didn't know if people wanted to participate, how disruptive it would be for Spring Training, and there were about 10 to 12 other concerns. We don't have that now. I think everybody who participated in it, although it wasn't perfect, seemed to think it was a great experience, and I haven't had anybody come up and tell me they don't want to play in the next one."

On a lighter side, when asked about his busy Spring Training schedule, going from team to team the way he has for more than 20 years, Fehr said, "I'm older, tired and hurt more. As my mother reminds me, I'll be 60 in July.

"Which reminds me that my kids called me a little while ago and said, 'Wikipedia says you were born in '46, but you weren't born until '48, right?' I went to Wikipedia and tried to change it, but it wouldn't let me. It says I am two years older than I am."

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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