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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Carl Everett expects to win with Seattle Mariners


PEORIA, Ariz. -- He hadn't even started his first Mariners workout, and already Carl Everett was spicing up a bland Seattle spring training.

By 8 a.m. Tuesday, minutes after arriving at his new clubhouse, Everett was whooping and churning out jokes. He teased 39-year-old pitcher Dave Burba for looking like the goody-goody player depicted on the league's posted notice on the proper way to wear a uniform.

Later, the Mariners' new designated hitter explained why he bought two weeks of spring training lunches for his Montreal teammates in 2004. He paid for catered hot food over the clubhouse cold cuts, because "when you get turkey, you get the whole turkey. Legs, hips, rear end. Everything."

But there was nothing about dinosaurs. Not yet, anyway.

"That's dude's crazy, man," said outfielder Matt Lawton, a fellow offseason Seattle import and locker neighbor who spent most of his morning at Everett's side. "Good luck with HIM."

On the field, trainers called the players to stretch before for the first full Seattle practice. Everett was using nail clippers to trim his fingernails.

Everett later pantomimed punches into the stomach of new hitting coach Jeff Pentland. Three times, he clowned with a television cameraman. He bellowed cackling, drawn out laughs at Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre around the batting cage.

The man infamous for once head-butting an umpire, spitting at and grabbing his crotch at Seattle pitcher Jamie Moyer after a home run and claiming dinosaurs never existed had landed with laughs onto his eighth team in 11 major-league seasons.

"Eight teams doesn't bother me," the 34-year-old former Marlin, Met, Astro, Red Sox, Ranger, Expo and White Sox said. "That means I'm wanted."

The Mariners, desperate for a left-handed power hitter, wanted him enough to pay the switch-hitter $3.4 million this season. Seattle also has a club option for 2007.

Everett earned $4 million last season with the World Series champion White Sox. He played in 135 games and batted .251 with 23 home runs and 87 RBIs.

It was the fourth time in his 11-year career he hit at least 20 home runs and drove in at least 80, yet Chicago declined its 2006 option.

Seattle then leaped for a potential spark for its complacent clubhouse and an even more inert offense.

"I heard this team was lax and laid back," Everett said. "I find they are very humorous and willing to play baseball - so far.

"The tone for me right now is it's going to be a great year."

Everett's first-day tone surprised some Mariners.

"Actually, being with him today, he was one of the nicest guys I've ever met," said Lawton, who has never played with Everett. "He's going to be great for our clubhouse, keeping guys loose.

"You see some many guys with the label 'Time bomb' and they are quiet, like they are about to explode. He was great."

Hold on, Matt. Everett warned those "time bomb" moments may still be coming.

"You're going to find when I'm not smiling, stay away from me," Everett said.

A hearty chuckle failed to hide his seriousness.

"I don't know what my reputation is. I've heard so much from so many different people," he said. "And, actually, I really don't care. But the guys in the clubhouse, they know who I am. They are around me more than anybody.

"I'm not a person who will let you get to know me - and that tends to offend people.

"I'm not looking for people to like me," he said. "I'm here to win."

Everett said he perceived that winning mentality to be lacking from the Mariners last year during their 69-93 season - Seattle's second consecutive 90-loss year.

"'Hope we're going to win,' that's exactly what I saw," Everett said. "It wasn't a team that went out to beat you every day."

With that, Everett rose from the picnic table he had been using as his pulpit. He then issued this ironic advisement:

"You all stay out of trouble."


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