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Fast Break


M’s still in mood to make a deal

With less than three weeks before spring training begins, this is the time of the baseball year when most of the big deals already have been made.

This isn’t your average baseball year, however, and in a free agent and trade market that have developed slowly – if at all – the Seattle Mariners continue to angle for a big deal.

Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi told reporters Thursday that there’s a good chance he’ll make a trade or free agent signing before spring training begins Feb. 14.

“We have tried to keep all of our lines in the water for premier guys out there,” Bavasi said. “We have been involved in several of them out there and have stayed involved.”

While Minnesota’s Johan Santana remains available for a sizable price, the Mariners’ most realistic trade target is Baltimore left-hander Erik Bedard. The Orioles hope to land a package filled with top prospects, and the M’s have had a longstanding offer. Bavasi made it clear he isn’t willing to strip the minor league system bare.

“We are prepared to move, but there is a limit,” Bavasi said. “On more than one pitcher out there that’s available, we have provided deals that I don’t think anybody is going to beat.”

The most recent reports say the Mariners have offered outfielder Adam Jones, pitcher Chris Tillman and infielder Carlos Truinfel, with some mentioning left-handed setup reliever George Sherrill.

So far, Bavasi has drawn the line at right-handed pitcher Brandon Morrow and catcher Jeff Clement.

With the Los Angeles Angels favored to win the A.L. West again, Bavasi was asked if the M’s are closer to competing with them.

“We did that last year, but competing isn’t what we want to do,” he said. “We want to win it.”

The Mariners won 88 games last year, a big improvement on three straight last-place finishes, but they fell from contention because of an August-September skid.

“Last year we were able to compete and, at the wrong time, we stopped competing,” Bavasi said. “We want to get to the point where they are competing with us.”

Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13.


Majerus at odds with archbishop

A Roman Catholic archbishop said this week that he will ask officials of Saint Louis University to take “appropriate action” against its basketball coach, who said in a television interview that he supports abortion rights.

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke declined to say what the action against Majerus should be, saying that was a decision for the Jesuit university. But he said the coach is a leader and shouldn’t support views in opposition to church teaching.

Majerus took a typically defiant stand.

“These beliefs are ingrained in me,” Majerus told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “And my First Amendment right to free speech supersedes anything that the archbishop would order me to do.”