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MARINERS NOTEBOOK: Why wouldn't I return? Ibañez asks

MINNEAPOLIS – Raul Ibañez began the three-game series in the Twin Cities as one of the most productive hitters in the game this month – and as a free agent at the end of the season.

So why haven’t the Seattle Mariners extended his contract, or tried to sit down with his agent and hammer out a new deal?

They can’t.

“I’ve told them as soon as the season ends I’d be happy to talk to them,” Ibañez said Friday, Aug. 16. “Not now. Not once the season started. My focus is on today – I don’t even want to look a game ahead, let alone a couple of months out.

“If my focus wanders, I yank it back. This game is hard enough with dealing with that stuff and facing Francisco Liriano.”

Had the Mariners come to him in spring training about a contract extension, Ibañez said he would have listened. They never did. Now, with Lee Pelekoudas the general manager and Bill Bavasi gone, the team must wait until October.

Ibañez will certainly be an object of desire for teams looking for a productive left-handed bat – and if the Mariners lose Ibañez, they’ll be looking for one, too.

Is he even interested in returning to a team that currently has the worst record in the American League?

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Ibañez asked. “It’s a great ballpark, a great city and the fans have been wonderful to me. Why wouldn’t I listen to anything they have to say? I’m just not going to do it during the season.”

No Washburn salary dump

It began on the Internet and then hit some newspapers – the Mariners turned down a Minnesota Twins offer of pitcher Boof Bonser in exchange for Jarrod Washburn.

Both teams now insist they talked, but Bonser’s name never came up.

Another columnist wrote Seattle was foolish, demanding a young pitcher – Nick Blackburn – and killing the deal with greed.

That wasn’t true, either. Apparently, Blackburn’s name was brought up, but by the Twins, not the Mariners. And the Twins say they quickly rescinded that offer.

So why not simply dump Washburn’s salary on another team?

The Mariners have made it clear any deal they make will be made only to improve the team, not to dump salary. Their theory? That the money saved on Washburn’s deal wouldn’t guarantee improvement.They’ll keep the pitcher.

Charlton busted ... for jaywalking

Norm Charlton, scofflaw.

In Anaheim this week, Charlton walked across the street from the team hotel to a Starbucks coffee shop – and ran afoul of a city jaywalking stakeout.

“I had to stand between the yellow lines in the middle of the street at one point, and that probably wasn’t the safest thing to do,” Charlton admitted. “Once I got across, this police motorcycle pulls up and the guy writes me a ticket.”

Yes, the officer had been parked and watching. Charlton took the ticket without argument.

“I thought, after all the illegal things I’ve done in my life and gotten away with, if I had to get caught for something, jaywalking wasn’t that bad,” Charlton said. “I mean, he asked me, ‘Were you jaywalking?’ and I had to say ‘Yes.’”

Short hops

Mike Morse, out most of the season after separating his left shoulder, took live batting practice Friday for just the second time. Morse is on schedule to go to Instructional League in late September, where he’ll catch up on at-bats he’s been missing since April 14.

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