Tuesday, February 22, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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M's name Moyer for Opening Day start

Seattle Times staff reporter

PEORIA, Ariz. - Unless something unforeseen comes up, Jamie Moyer will make the first Opening Day start of his 12-year career, against the Red Sox at Safeco Field on April 4.

It will be the first time since Erik Hanson opened the 1991 season that Seattle's Opening Day starter is not Randy Johnson, who started the Mariners' first game from 1992 through '96 and in '98, or Jeff Fassero, who pitched Game 1 in 1997 and 1999.

"Jamie's earned it; he's our staff leader," Manager Lou Piniella said of the veteran left-hander. "Freddy Garcia looks like a fit for No. 2 off last year, (Aaron) Sele No. 3, although we could use him in the second spot, too. We'll see how it works out in camp."

Entering Cactus League games, Seattle also lists left-hander John Halama as No. 4 starter and Gil Meche as No. 5, with newcomer Brett Tomko trying to squeeze in.

Naming Moyer to start the first game provides the bonus of having the veteran left-hander start the last game of the opening six-game homestand, April 9 against the Yankees.

Ken Cloude, who has started in parts of the past three seasons, could make a run at a spot but must show consistency.

Beyond Moyer, Garcia and Sele, and probably Meche, there is no guarantee who will be in camp at the end of spring as the Mariners try to deal for another outfielder.

"A trade could factor into who winds up where in our rotation," Piniella said. "We're trying to do one or two things, and other teams are going to be looking at our pitching."

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