Hargrove returns to game just as Meche checks out

Two interesting storylines in Major League Baseball on Tuesday involving comings and goings of former Mariners.

MecheGil.jpgIn Kansas City, pitcher Gil Meche pulled the stunner of retiring from the game at 32 … the surprise being he’s walking away from the final year of a contract that would have paid him $12 million for the upcoming season.

The Mariners’ first-round draft pick in ’96 had moments of brilliance in the big leagues along with considerable frustrations. He got the quick promotion to Seattle at age 20 and went 8-4 as a rookie in ’99, raising considerable hope that he was an ace-in-waiting.

A torn labrum led to Meche missing the 2001-02 seasons, but he came back to win 15 games in ’03 and posted a 55-44 record in six seasons in Seattle before signing a five-year, $55 million deal with the Royals.

Arm problems caught up with Meche again and he finished last season in the bullpen and was targeted for relief duty again this year to avoid further toll on his arm before choosing instead to walk away.

You can read the full story of his retirement here by MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel, who covers the Royals.

HargroveMike.jpgMeanwhile, former Mariners manager Mike Hargrove is returning to baseball as a special adviser to the Cleveland Indians, his first job back in the Majors since walking away from Seattle in the midst of a pennant race on July 1, 2007.

At the time, the Mariners were 45-33 and riding an eight-game win streak, but Hargrove said he’d lost his passion for the game.

He returns now to an Indians’ franchise where he played, coached and managed for 22 years.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to once again be a Cleveland Indian,” Hargrove said in a statement, “and am very much looking forward to helping any way that I can. Even when I was away and managing other teams, I always had an interest in what was happening with the Indians. All I can really say is that it is good to be home.”

Hargrove’s return to Cleveland coincides with Seattle’s hiring of former Indians skipper Eric Wedge, raising another interesting angle to the Mariners’ home-opening series against Cleveland on April 8-10. Sounds as if Hargrove could be working on the Indians’ broadcast crew at that time. If so, it would be his first return to Safeco since his oddly-timed departure.

You can read more about Hargrove’s situation in Cleveland in this story by MLB.com’s Jordan Bastain.

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