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Sunday, July 18, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mariner Notebook -- Ibanez Not Overwhelmed By First Grand Slam At Safeco

Seattle Times Staff: AP

Almost as soon as Raul Ibanez sent the long fly ball arching toward the right-field seats, you could feel the roar of a Safeco Field sellout rise. On a day when the Mariners proved you could indeed make a ball soar through the thick mist, Ibanez's seventh-inning grand slam was all anyone left the stadium talking about.

"He really seemed to take it in stride," catcher Tom Lampkin said.

Perhaps that's because Ibanez isn't expecting to put a lot of baseballs in the Safeco seats.

Someone happened to mention to him that he now has more home runs at Safeco Field than Ken Griffey Jr. He snickered. "That won't be for long," he said.

Mostly Ibanez was excited to be playing on the new grass across from the Kingdome.

"It feels like a Disneyland-type of park," he said. "It's just electric. When I first got over here when we held our workouts, I thought `Oh this is weird,' but then when the fans started coming in, they just gave it life."

Notes

-- Safeco Field was built so quickly that the Mariners had to begin selling tickets when the stadium was little more than a steel frame. That helps explain what happened to one Seattle family yesterday. Times reporter Michele Matassa Flores, her husband, their daughter and baby boy hiked to their upper-deck seats only to find one of the seats didn't exist. They held tickets for seats 15-17, but their row ended at 16. After speaking to three Mariner employees, Flores' husband, Manuel, learned some seats had been removed during construction - after he had bought the tickets. He got three new, and better, seats for the game. He also received three more tickets to see the M's play Boston in September.

-- Seattle Manager Lou Piniella gave right fielder Jay Buhner the day off yesterday. He said it was a planned rest because Buhner's still tender hamstring had grown stiff after two days of playing.

-- The Mariners have less than 500 tickets remaining for today's game against Arizona. They have 7,000 remaining for Monday; 1,000 for Tuesday; 12,000 for Wednesday and 6,000 for Thursday.

-- On Friday night, when the retractable roof on Safeco Field was closed because it was raining, players complained the roof wasn't water proof. Water dripped into right field and near second base on the dirt part of the infield. It seems two of the three panels that make up the roof that is more than 11,000 tons weren't aligned right by a computer, officials said.

"The roof does not leak," Rebecca Hale, the Mariners' director of public information, said yesterday. "It's not a major thing. We're still adjusting. The second and third panels were not overlapped as they should be last night. We had a little water coming in, but it wasn't a leak."

-- The first Safeco Field home run, hit by Russ Davis, was caught by Chase Houston, a 14-year-old from Puyallup. He and his father, Randy, traded in the ball for a handful of Mariner souvenirs. The ball will now rest in the stadium's museum.

-- Randy Johnson will address the media this morning after, upon arriving at Safeco Field.

Up next: Arizona

Pitching probables: today, John Halama (7-2, 2.89) vs. Omar Daal (8-5, 3.47); tomorrow, Gil Meche (0-0, 6.14) vs. Brian Anderson (2-1, 6.94); Tuesday, Jamie Moyer (8-5, 4.83) vs. Randy Johnson (9-7, 2.80)

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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