A top Mariners official downplayed widespread rumors Thursday that the team's radio broadcasting rights have been awarded back to KIRO 710...

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A top Mariners official downplayed widespread rumors Thursday that the team’s radio broadcasting rights have been awarded back to KIRO 710 AM after a six-year absence.

Randy Adamack, the team’s vice president of communications, said that a final decision is close to being made but still a few weeks away.

KOMO 1000 has held the rights since 2002, paying $10 million for them. But changes to the radio industry and the onset of Internet broadcasting has led to a reduction in the value of such rights.

The rumor is that KIRO, owned by Bonneville International, will wind up paying less than half of what KOMO did.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

“We hope it will be for more than half,” Adamack said.

The switch in stations is not expected to mean any serious changes to the in-game broadcasts. Radio partners Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs would follow the team over to KIRO, though the status of longtime clubhouse reporter Shannon Drayer has yet to be determined.

Drayer is a KOMO employee, as are all those who do pre- and postgame work on the broadcasts, and as such would have to be hired by KIRO. It remains to be seen whether KIRO would continue the position, or go in another direction.

There also are rumors that KIRO will soon move to an all-sports format, sending news and talk shows to Bonneville’s KBSG-FM station.

Clement carries on

Mariners manager Jim Riggleman continues to stand behind catcher Jeff Clement, despite his offensive struggles. Clement entered Thursday’s game hitting just .179 with a .286 on-base percentage and a .310 slugging percentage in 84 at-bats this season.

Since being recalled from Class AAA in June, he had gone 7 for 36 (.194) and struck out in a third of those at-bats. But Riggleman said he’s committed to giving Clement time behind the plate and did so again on Thursday.

“We’re just giving him every opportunity to get it going,” Riggleman said. “It’s tough. It seems like they’re making great pitches on him.

“He’s just really not getting that many pitches in the center of the plate that he can just jump on and get it going. If he does, you want to build on it, but then they continue to make good pitches on him. He just hasn’t gotten on track. But we know he’s a good hitter. “

Riggleman said he’ll try to work both Kenji Johjima and Clement into the lineup on some occasions when he can, like when a pitcher-hitter matchup might see one of the two as preferable to using Jose Vidro at designated hitter.

Remember when?

When Miguel Cairo doubled twice to help beat Toronto on Wednesday, he did so against the team — and manager — who broke him into the major leagues and then traded him away soon after. Back in 1996, Cairo made his major-league debut for the Blue Jays under then-manager Cito Gaston.

He appeared in nine games for Toronto, then was traded to the Chicago Cubs in the offseason for pitcher Jason Stevenson.

Gaston spent 11 years away from managing before the Blue Jays asked him to take over for the fired John Gibbons late last month.

Cairo has played for seven major-league teams and has no regrets about his early years in Toronto.


Felix Hernandez threw for 10 minutes on flat ground from a distance of 90 feet on Thursday and felt no adverse effects from the ankle sprain that has him on the disabled list. Riggleman said there’s a very good chance Hernandez will make a start before the All-Star break.

• The Mariners signed second-round draft pick Dennis Rayben and assigned him to their Class A Everett squad. The 20-year-old outfielder, chosen 66th overall, played for the University of Miami at the College World Series and tied a record by drawing six walks in a June 8 game against Arizona.

Seattle has now inked 14 of its top 20 draft picks, though top pick Josh Fields has yet to sign.

For the record

33-52 .388

Streak: L1

Home: 17-26

Road: 16-26

vs. AL West: 10-14

vs. L.A.: 3-6

vs. Oakland: 3-2

vs. Texas: 4-6

vs. AL East: 10-18

vs. AL Cent.: 4-11

vs. NL: 9-9

vs. LHP: 8-13

vs. RHP: 25-39

Day: 9-17

Night: 24-35

One-run: 9-15

Extra innings: 2-2

Home attendance

Thursday’s crowd: 22,523

Season total: 1,205,262

Biggest crowd: 46,334 (March 31)

Smallest crowd: 15,818 (May 6)

Average (43 dates): 28,029

2007 average (43 dates): 31,337

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