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07/17/2019   Seattle PI Mariners

SEATTLE (AP) — Edgar Martinez trained for every aspect of his career.

As a player, he spent nearly two decades doing daily eye exercises to overcome strabismus, a condition that prevented his eyes from seeing in tandem. Rather than letting that become an excuse that kept him out of baseball, Martinez became arguably the best right-handed hitter of his generation and the prototype for what a designated hitter can be.

As a coach, he was a meticulous planner, often one of the first in the clubhouse daily. Before taking swings during batting practice — more than a decade after his last game — Martinez spent a week taking BP. He wasn't about to be unprepared before putting on a show players and fellow coaches wouldn't forget.

Why should his training and preparation be any different for his first speech as a Hall of Famer?

"I think it's like anything if you want to do it right and do well you have to practice," Martinez said. "In a way it's true, it's like that. You're preparing for some performance, whether it's hitting in a game or a speech."

Martinez will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, the first player to spend his entire career with the Seattle Mariners — 18 seasons in all — and find his way into Cooperstown.

His numbers are staggering yet often overlooked. Most of his career was spent tucked away in the Pacific Northwest on a team that until the magical 1995 season, when the franchise made its first playoff appearance in dramatic fashion, got little notice on the national stage.

Martinez hit .312 with 309 home runs in 2,055 career games with the Mariners. His numbers would be even more impressive if he had broken into the majors earlier. Martinez never played more than 100 games in the majors until he was 27.

"Day in and day out, he was...

07/13/2019   Seattle PI Mariners

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — When the Los Angeles Angels think about Tyler Skaggs in the months and years ahead, Andrew Heaney is grateful they'll have the memory of one incredible night to assuage their sadness.

With Skaggs' name and No. 45 on all of their jerseys Friday night, the Angels played practically perfect baseball throughout their first home game since their 27-year-old teammate's death.

After they completed a combined no-hitter and a 13-0 victory over Seattle, the Angels gathered on the field and placed those No. 45 jerseys on the mound until it was more red than brown.

The Angels then stood reverently in a circle to pay one more tribute to the ebullient, lanky left-hander who definitely would have called them nasty.

"For us, it's emotionally therapeutic," said Heaney, Skaggs' best friend and fellow starting pitcher. "After the game, we ran out on the field and everybody was celebrating. Like three hours earlier, I don't know about everybody else, (but) I had tears in my eyes. You're sort of reliving your bad memories, bad thoughts. Just for tonight, and maybe moving forward, it can change your mindset. When you think about him, you're thinking about the loss of a friend, a teammate. But moving forward, hopefully you think of his jersey, you think of his name, (and) it brings back positive memories."

This too-good-for-Hollywood evening began with a touching pregame ceremony honoring Skaggs, who was found dead in his hotel room July 1 in Texas on the first morning of a road trip.

The Angels and Mariners all stood solemnly on the Big A field while Skaggs' mother, Debbie, delivered a heartbreakingly perfect strike with her first pitch.

When the game began, the Angels were fearless and nearly flawless.

Taylor Cole opened with two perfect innings before Félix...

07/13/2019   Seattle PI Mariners

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels all wore Tyler Skaggs' No. 45 jerseys as they stood solemnly on the field while his mother, Debbie, delivered a heartbreakingly perfect strike with her first pitch.

Three incredible hours later, the Angels walked back onto the Angel Stadium field, some with tears in their eyes. One by one, they removed those No. 45 jerseys and spread them over the mound until nearly all of the dirt was covered in red.

In between those two melancholy, magical moments, the Angels played their heavy hearts out in their first home game since their beloved pitcher's death.

Their 13-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday was a combined no-hitter by Taylor Cole and Félix Peña. Mike Trout contributed six RBIs, including a 454-foot homer on the first pitch he saw.

On the day before what would have been Skaggs' 28th birthday, these astonishing Angels played a practically perfect game with his memory in their minds.

"Tonight was in honor of him," Trout said. "He was definitely looking over us tonight. He's probably up there saying we're nasty. What an unbelievable game to be a part of. I'm speechless. This is the best way possible to honor him tonight. It was pretty crazy."

The Angels decided last week that they would wear Skaggs' jersey in their first game back at the Big A, but their tribute ended up exceeding all logic and reasonable expectation. Still reeling from the loss of their left-handed starter early last week in Texas, the Angels somehow blinked away their tears and excelled in every aspect of the game.

"This is obviously the worst thing that could happen for a team," Trout said. "Emotionally, the team came together. ... Tonight, to honor him again obviously opened the wound again. (But) just to be out there where he loved to...