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World Series 2001
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10/23/2001 06:17 AM ET
M's could have different look in 2002
By Jim Street and Jonathan Mayo
MLB.com
Sele went 15-5 during the regular season, but his four-inning stint in Game 5 might have been his last with the M's.

NEW YORK -- The Mariners face many decisions in the offseason that begins now. With two probable retirees and a few key free agents, it's possible Seattle could have a different look in 2002.

Game 5 starter Aaron Sele is one of those who may be seeking new employment. With his three-year deal running out, his four-inning stint might have been his last start in a Mariner uniform. That possible finality didn't make his rough outing any worse.

"It's difficult, period," Sele said. "When you've got a group of guys that you've worked hard from Spring Training on, whether you are locked up long term or you're a free agent or whatever, the group of guys you are with and the battles you go through for eight months, that's what makes it difficult when you get bumped out like this."

A continued string of postseason futility probably doesn't make it any easier. Despite a successful regular season, during which Sele went 15-5, he still remains winless in the postseason. With the Game 5 defeat, Sele is 0-6 with a 4.46 ERA in seven career playoff starts. Five of his six defeats came courtesy of the Yankees, going 0-5 with a 5.00 ERA in five outings against New York. Sele remained relatively unfazed about the continuation of his playoff failure.

"No, I don't feel any differently," Sele said when asked to compare the regular season to the postseason. "You have to go out and make quality pitches to keep your team in the game. The starts you don't keep your team in the game, you expect to lose.

"The postseason, you know you are not going to get very many runs and you just try to keep it close."

He was able to do that in Game 1 of this series, allowing three runs in six innings. Still, he took the loss because Andy Pettitte was so dominant. This time around, however, he couldn't really make the same claim. He was particularly hurt by pitches to David Justice and Bernie Williams in the third inning that didn't go exactly where he wanted them to go.

"Good pitches don't leave the ballpark," Sele said. "Justice was a curveball over the middle of the plate that he hooked; he probably should have hit that out, too. I just got lucky that he hit it hard enough that he topped it. Bernie just got good extension on a fastball, basically down the middle of the plate and up, and drove it right out to center."

And against the Yankees pitching, that was really all she wrote.

"You can't really outpitch them," Sele said. "You have to pitch your game. I think Lou's right. Starting pitching and defense wins championships. The way their starters pitched was phenomenal. We couldn't get anything going against them and they were able to hit our starting pitching. So it's the same old story."

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YOUNG GUN TESTED: Joel Pineiro pitched perhaps two of the most important innings of his young career in the Mariners' blowout loss to the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

"It didn't go quite the way I wanted it to go," said the 23-year-old, who allowed four hits, one run and struck out five in the Mariners final game of the season.

He replaced left-hander John Halama in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and none out. By the time he got three outs, the Yankees had four hits.

"It was a good experience," he said. "It is going to be something that will help me out in the future. This was my first chance to pitch in the postseason and hopefully it won't be my last."

Pineiro figures to be a part of the Mariners starting rotation next season, especially if the Mariners don't re-sign right-hander Aaron Sele, who is eligible for free agency.

PARTING WORDS: Manager Lou Piniella walked into the visiting clubhouse for the final time this season and for one of the few times it was after a loss. But the 14-3 debacle in Game 5 of the ALCS, which ended their season with an overall 120-52 record, didn't put him in a particularly sour mood.

"I talked to the team and told them they did something they should be very proud of," he said. "I thanked them for their efforts. They are fun bunch manage and I told them they have nothing to be ashamed of."

More than any team out there, Piniella admitted losing to the Yankees hurts the most.

"It is hard for me personally. I played here for long, but what can you do? We tried out best and it didn't work out. Things just didn't work out for us."

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner stopped by to stay a few words to one of his former favorite players. "He congratulated us on a fine season and I told him I'd see him in Tampa during the winter and we'd get together for lunch," Piniella said.

Steinbrenner should pick up the tab.

GREAT VIEW: For pitcher Denny Stark and outfielder Eugene Kingsale, being around the postseason games wasn't quite like participating in the fun and games. But it still was a learning experience.

"It has been exciting and I'm having a great time," Stark said. "The first series against Cleveland was unbelievable."

Stark, who had a 14-2 record for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers and appeared in two games with the Mariners, was on the bench and in uniform for the Division Series and Championship Series but wasn't on the 25-man roster in either.

He basically spent the past two weeks as a cheerleader.

"I think it is positive to be able to see this atmosphere and experience it a little bit," Stark said. "This is a pretty positive experience. The highlight so far is beating the Indians (in Game 5) and being able to go onto the field and celebrate. It was great to see us come back the way we did."

Stark said he basically took it all in and hopes what he learned while watching from the dugout can be utilized in the future.

Now that the season is over, Stark said he will go to Arizona, begin an off-season program that includes lifting weights, and begin throwing around the middle of December to get ready for spring training.

With right-hander Aaron Sele possibly leaving via free agency, at least one spot in the starting rotation could be up for grabs when the Mariners open camp next February. As the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Year, Stark figures to have a shot of earning a spot in the Seattle rotation.

Kingsale, acquired from the Orioles during the regular season, also soaked up the postseason atmosphere, hoping that someday soon he will be competing and not just watching.

"This has been awesome," said Kingsale, who was 5-for-15 in a brief stint with the Mariners during the regular season. "I have been taking it all in and enjoying myself. Last year at this time, I was getting ready for winter ball in the Dominican Republic. This is a lot better."

NEW LOOK: The Mariners' postseason hitting slump that lasted until Saturday afternoon's 14-run uprising in Game 3 of the ALCS, cost Mariners hitting coach Gerald Perry his thin, white beard. "We weren't hitting so I figured if I shaved it off, might help," he said. So, on Saturday morning, Perry became beardless for the first time in two years, although he kept his mustache and chin hair. The team scored runs in bunches that afternoon, but returned to the slump on Sunday with just one run -- Bret Boone's eighth-inning home run.

COMING BACK: Although it hasn't been announced, expect Manager Lou Piniella's entire coaching staff to return next season. The staff includes bench coach John McLaren, who has been with the M's since 1993, first-base coach John Moses (1999), third-base coach Dave Myers (2001), hitting coach Gerald Perry (2000), pitching coach Bryan Price (2000) and bullpen coach Matt Sinatro (1995). Contract extensions could be finalized soon after the season ends.

NO ESTA CALIENTE: It took awhile, but the Yankees seem to have figured out how to get Edgar Martinez out in the postseason. He was a combined 17-for-42 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 11 games heading into this ALCS.

But Martinez went 3-for-20 (.150) with no RBIs against the Yankees.

"They are pitching him well and the groin (injury) can't help," Manager Lou Piniella said before Game 5. "You've got to use your legs when you hit. Certainly, (the strained groin) has been a detriment, especially running the bases. But he's a pro and wants to be in that lineup."

Piniella said his designated hitter isn't using the injury as an excuse.

"This is a very difficult game to play when you are 100 percent healthy," he said, "and when you are not at 100 percent, it diminishes from your abilities. There's no question about it. And Edgar has been a special hitter for a long, long, long time."

Jim Street covers the Mariners for MLB.com. Jonathan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com.