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Seattle Mariners

‘Big Unit’ Pulls Off Corker Of Gag Over Mammoth Blast

Thu., June 26, 1997

Randy Johnson was so impressed by the mammoth blast Mark McGwire hit off of him Tuesday night that he decided to do a little investigating.

Johnson called a press conference to address his concerns prior to Wednesday’s game.

“We have to wonder if the home run he hit was done with a bat that would pass through an X-ray machine. In other words, was it corked?” Johnson wondered.

“I didn’t sleep very well last night,” he said. “I woke up in a sweat and came back to the Kingdome and got the key to the visiting clubhouse and went over to the visiting clubhouse and went through Mark McGwire’s bat bag.”

Johnson proceeded to pull a concealed bat out of a sock. It was a promotional souvenir bat, smaller than a normal bat, and had a cork sticking out the end of the barrel.

“I don’t know if we can put this thing under protest,” Johnson announced.

Johnson and the reporters got a kick out of the gag and sought McGwire for his explanation.

McGwire, who is chasing Ken Griffey Jr. for the major league lead in home runs, took a look at the bat and said: “I think he got this out of Griffey’s locker.”

A-Rod feeling well

Shortstop Alex Rodriguez is due to return from the disabled list Friday and has taken batting practice each of the last two days at about 90 percent exertion.

“Everything went good today,” he said. “Two days in a row painless. It’s a phobia now just letting it go. I’m afraid to feel that pain again.”

Surprisingly, the Mariners haven’t been handicapped too much with Rodriguez out of the lineup. But he has missed playing.

Even if Rodriguez is activated Friday, the July 9 All-Star Game - he is the leading vote-getter at shortstop - may be in question.

Coming up

Seattle starts a four-game series with Anaheim at home today. Jason Dickson (8-3, 3.38) will pitch for the Angels. Jamie Moyer (6-2, 4.85) goes for the M’s at 7:05 p.m.

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