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Cruz's Opening Night Is Detoured to Tacoma

March 26, 1997

Jose Cruz Jr. thought he had proved himself this spring. The Seattle Mariners apparently think otherwise.

The Mariners on Tuesday told Cruz, 22, that he will be playing at triple-A Tacoma instead of in left field in the Kingdome on opening night.

"This is part of the game, I guess," Cruz said. "You've got to live with it."

Cruz, a California League all-star for the JetHawks last season, batted .339 (20 for 59) in 24 games this spring. He had four home runs and 12 runs batted in. He broke out of a two-for-20 slump with two homers and a single Monday in an exhibition victory over San Diego.

Cruz had hoped to start in the same outfield with all-stars Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner.

Cruz said he received encouragement from Edgar Martinez, the Mariners' two-time American League batting champion.

"He started laughing," Cruz said. "He just said it happened to him like 10 times or whatever.

"He said I was on a real fast track. Maybe too fast. So it's not the end of the world. He told me to keep working hard and have a good attitude, and I'd be up again in no time."

The Mariners open in Seattle against the New York Yankees on Tuesday night with Lee Tinsley and Rich Amaral platooning in left field.

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Catcher claimed: Tim Laker, who played baseball at Simi Valley High and Oxnard College, was claimed on waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

Laker, a 27-year-old catcher formerly with the Montreal Expos' organization, had been considered one of the top defensive catchers in the minors, but he missed all of 1996 with an elbow injury.

The Expos acquired Chris Widger from the Mariners in the off-season. Widger is expected to be the starter, pushing Darrin Fletcher to a backup role and Laker out of the picture. Widger, 25, also is a defensive specialist.

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Last lap: Manny Trevino, the Moorpark College men's and women's cross-country and track and field coach for the past 26 years, will retire at the end of the junior college track season.

Trevino, 54, said he still enjoys coaching, but he and his wife, Sandy, a librarian at the college, were offered early retirement packages that were too good to turn down.

"The biggest thing I'll remember are all the different personalities you work with," Trevino said. "The relationships you form over the years are some of the biggest things I'll remember."

Trevino guided the Moorpark men's cross-country team to its first state title in November. Raider cross-country teams had a 324-85 dual-meet record under Trevino and his track squads have a 296-75 mark.

Doni Green, an assistant track coach at Moorpark College, is considered the leading candidate to replace Trevino.

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Repeat honor: Mike Penberthy of The Master's College has been selected to the NAIA Division I All-American basketball team for the second consecutive season.

Penberthy, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, averaged 27.5 points and 3.8 assists and shot 42.7% from three-point range to help the Mustangs (21-11) advance to the 32-team Division I tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

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On a roll: Kyle Thurston, an 11-year old from Moorpark, shot a one-under par 35 to win the Knollwood Spring Junior golf tournament Tuesday at Knollwood Golf Course in Granada Hills.

Thurston, who plays out of Sunset Hills Country Club in Thousand Oaks, finished second in last weekend's Los Angeles City Junior Golf Championships D flight when he shot a four-over par 70 at Roosevelt Golf Course in Griffith Park. He finished one stroke behind Henry Liaw of Royal Vista Golf Club.

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In the money: Ted Lehmann of Westlake Village Golf Course shot a three-under par 69 at Sandpiper Golf Course in Goleta to win the first of five SCPGA/Ashworth Tour series events.

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