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‘Ruff’: Ichiro’s dog helps seal extension



SEATTLE – It was a great week to be Ichiro Suzuki.

The Seattle leadoff man signed a $90 million, five-year contract extension Friday, three days after he was the MVP of the All-Star game.

The deal ensures the Mariners, enjoying their best season in four years, will not lose their franchise cornerstone to free agency this fall. Instead, they will keep the seven-time All-Star and perennial Gold Glove outfielder under contract until age 39.

When asked whose counsel he valued most during contract negotiations that began in January, he said, “Ikky, my dog.”

“He said, ‘Ruff, ruff, ruff,”‘ a smiling Suzuki said through an interpreter. “That means, ‘Stay, stay, stay.”‘

Seattle won the bidding to sign him to come, come, come out of Japan before 2001. Then the Mariners signed him to an extension in 2004 that is paying him $11 million this season.

Suzuki, the first player in major league history with 200 hits in each of his first six seasons, led the majors with 129 hits after Friday’s 6-3 loss to Detroit. He’s batting .353 with five home runs, 39 RBIs and 23 steals.

The contract contains a $5 million signing bonus and base salaries of $17 million for each season from 2008-12, with part of the money deferred.

Giambi, investigator talk
Jason Giambi met with George Mitchell in New York, becoming the first active player known to talk with baseball’s steroids investigator.

Mitchell and his staff finished interviewing the New York Yankees’ slugger Friday, and no further meetings were scheduled. Commissioner Bud Selig was not present.

Giambi, sidelined since May 30 because of a foot injury, made a near admission of steroid use in comments to USA TODAY in May.

No homers for Bonds in loss
SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Bonds’ bat came off his shoulder three times all game. The two at-bats when he got to swing, he hit into double plays.

Chad Billingsley pitched six scoreless innings, Andre Ethier hit a three-run double in a six-run ninth, and the Los Angeles Dodgers got their ninth straight victory in San Francisco, 9-1 on Friday.

Bonds stayed stuck at 751 home runs, four shy of Hank Aaron’s home run record. He did add to his walks total of 93.

Bonds, who turns 43 on July 24, started in Tuesday’s All-Star game, his first in three years.

“Whew! Aren’t you still tired from that whole thing?” Bonds asked while walking through the clubhouse before Friday’s game. “I’m still tired.”

Sub .500, Torre still optimistic
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Roger Clemens was outpitched, and the New York Yankees fell below .500 again.

Still, manager Joe Torre was convinced Friday night that the team can climb back into playoff contention.

“I learned through my years of doing this that even though everything is judged on winning and losing, it’s the tenacity of the team,” Torre said after Scott Kazmir shut down the Yankees for six innings of a 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Clemens, who allowed five hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings, threw 89 pitches – just 44 of them strikes.

Rockies’ Fuentes on DL
DENVER – The Colorado Rockies put left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4 for a mild back strain.

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