When Mike Cameron comes in tomorrow with the New York Mets, there will be stories making note of the mutual fondness between him and Seattle...

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When Mike Cameron comes in tomorrow with the New York Mets, there will be stories making note of the mutual fondness between him and Seattle fans, and there will be good feelings until the games start.

Somehow, though, David Bell slipped into town with the Phillies, and it caused barely a ripple. Bell, like Cameron, helped make the Mariners a winner after coming over in mid-1998 from the Indians in a trade for Joey Cora.

In fact, like Seattle coaches Don Baylor and Ron Hassey in many of their playing years, where Bell has gone, the teams have won.

“I’ve been lucky,” said Bell, part of postseason clubs in Seattle [2000, 2001] and San Francisco [2002]. “I’ve definitely come to appreciate being with good teams, I know that doesn’t happen to everyone, and it started here in Seattle.”

Bell said that coming to the Mariners “was the best thing that every happened to me, but the good luck actually started in 1998 when St. Louis let me go and I got a break when Cleveland picked me up. If not for that, I’d have wound up back in the minors. I really miss it here, but at the same time I have to say I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Urban legend has his parting from Seattle attributed to an outgrowth of constant rubs with manager Lou Piniella.

“I had a lot of respect for Lou, but I’m not going to tell you there wasn’t some tension there,” Bell acknowledged yesterday, before batting practice. “Things happened, where I felt I had to stick up for myself.”

It is known that Piniella somehow found Bell’s offense wanting, feeling he hit too many balls in the air.

“I’ll never know for sure what happened, whether it was Lou or an organizational decision,” said Bell, who opened the 2000 season at second base with Carlos Guillen at third, but played third thereafter. “We did win 116 games my last year [2001] but we didn’t beat the Yankees. When they looked at ways to improve they looked at the numbers, and mine were at the lower end compared to others.

“Whatever happened that I was out of here, I know I have always played every game the way I played my first game. I try to play the right way, with respect for the game, for my teammates, coaches and manager. No matter what happened I have always handled myself professionally.”

Bell said he did not take his departure personally.

“I know it’s a business,” he said. “But at the time it was disappointing.”

Nowhere near as disappointing for Mariners fans as what followed: Jeff Cirillo’s struggles in 2002 and 2003, and Scott Spiezio’s troubles in 2004. That led to the signing of Adrian Beltre, who has been off to a slow start in the American League and is day to day with a strained hamstring.

Spiezio leaves SandFrog

Spiezio divulged more bad news yesterday. No, not his recent groin and back problems. He is no longer a member of SandFrog, the garage band he played with for years that became an intriguing part of his persona.

“There is still a SandFrog and if they continue with some of the music we wrote in the past year, they’ll do real well,” said Spiezio, who has been out since April 20 with a strained oblique [side]. “I just couldn’t get along with one of the guys, but I still talk to two of the guys. There are no hard feelings; it’s just better this way.”

Anyway, he added, with all he had gone through in the past year and a half, “I haven’t even picked up a guitar in months.”

For a while it seemed he would be able to pick up his play where he left off. He was on a rehab option with Tacoma when he slipped during infield drills last week.

“I felt something in my groin when I did it,” Spiezio said. “But I worked out the next day and I felt tightness in my back. I may have been doing something to protect my groin and hurt my back.”

The plan now is to let his pains quiet and restart his rehab.

“I had been feeling great, too,” he said. “I was really enjoying being around those guys down there [Tacoma].”

Late scout remembered

There was a moment of silence before last night’s game in memory of Mariners scout Carroll Sembera, who passed away suddenly Tuesday at age 64. The club expressed sympathy to his wife, Margie, his five children and 10 grandchildren.

Sembera, who was a member of the Seattle organization for 11 years after working with the Major League Scouting Bureau, might be best remembered for his strong recommendation to have Houston include a big strong-armed pitcher he found in that organization before the Randy Johnson trade in 1998 — Freddy Garcia.

Sembera, a pitcher in his playing days, 1965-70, played for Houston and Montreal and had the first save in Expos history in 1969.


• The Mariners signed three of their picks from last week’s amateur draft: 3B Bryan Sabatella, taken in the ninth round; and right-handers Brett Bannister (19th round) and Ari Kafka (26th).

• Catcher Wiki Gonzalez (hamstring) has been cleared to begin a rehab option today and pitcher Rafael Soriano (elbow) had a good bullpen session yesterday and will throw a simulated game Saturday and go on a rehab option next week.