The good news for the Mariners this week is that Pedro Martinez moved to the New York Mets and the National League, which could give Seattle a chance to win another game or two...

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The good news for the Mariners this week is that Pedro Martinez moved to the New York Mets and the National League, which could give Seattle a chance to win another game or two every year.

Still, there was no news from the club on results from the physical exam that slugger Richie Sexson is believed to have taken Monday. The physical seemed to focus on the condition of the left shoulder that was surgically repaired last July.

Lee Pelekoudas, the Mariners’ assistant general manager, said nothing had changed yesterday and added that he could not confirm “whether there had or had not been a physical.”

But a baseball official reportedly indicated that additional medical tests would be performed on Sexson before a deal with Seattle would be finalized.

The Baltimore Sun, meanwhile, reported that Sexson passed his physical and would sign a four-year, $48 million contract.

With Sexson apparently in limbo, there seems to be little movement in the Mariners’ efforts to land third baseman Adrian Beltre or first baseman Carlos Delgado, with Beltre thought to now be a marginally stronger possibility than Delgado.

But with neither Beltre nor Delgado likely to sign here, Mariners officials have turned to shortstops. According to a source, they met and had productive talks with agents for both Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera recently at the winter meetings in Anaheim, Calif.

This would be in accordance with the general plan laid out by Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi as the club entered the free-agent market a month ago — that his priorities would be run production, pitching and then the infield. With Seattle missing out on pitchers Carl Pavano and Jon Lieber, it is turning to that last priority.

Thus, the Mariners have met with agent Jeff Lane about Renteria, who has been linked mostly with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals lately, and with agent Dan Lozano about Cabrera, who has been talking with Boston and the Mets.

The Mariners apparently denied a report yesterday out of St. Louis that they had offered Renteria $44 million for four years. If Seattle adds a shortstop, it would do so only if it couldn’t make progress toward signing Beltre and would probably then move rookie Jose Lopez to third base or back to Class AAA for more seasoning.

The Mariners are seeking to add at least two front-line free agents. They have about $16 million to spend and, with the cost of any two of the targets running about $20 million to $25 million, the expensive market seems to have forced the Mariners to turn to backloading contracts — a device they ordinarily avoid.

In other words, Sexson and possibly whoever else the club signs would take a lower amount for 2005, with much larger salaries starting in 2006. Seattle presumably would shed the combined $17 million due second baseman Bret Boone and pitcher Jamie Moyer in 2005.

Word last month from Arizona was that Sexson’s agent, Casey Close, objected to language the Diamondbacks inserted into their first contract offer to keep Sexson, who is a fine defensive first baseman and runs well for someone 6 feet 8.

The Diamondbacks reportedly wanted to insert clauses that wiped out some of Sexson’s money if he re-injured the shoulder. Those clauses supposedly were removed from a subsequent offer.

Mariners officials have to be praying Sexson is healthy. They won agreement in principle — pending a passed physical — in the face of strong bids from the Baltimore Orioles and the Mets, two of the game’s big spenders.

So intense is the interest in Sexson that Close was last heard insisting the market for the Northwest native is still open, a sentiment Orioles GM Jim Beattie repeated yesterday.

Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or