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Sexson early to Mariners camp, apologizes for DUI

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Slugger Richie Sexson, one of Seattle's big
offseason pickups, checked into Mariners camp two days early
Saturday, knowing he'd have to explain a Feb. 5 drunken driving
citation.

"It's an unfortunate situation," said Sexson, who has pleaded
not guilty. "I'm disappointed, No. 1 in myself. You want to
apologize to every fan you've ever had, every fan you're going to
have or fans you're going to lose."

Sexson, who signed a four-year, $50 million contract, was
stopped a quarter-mile from his home near Vancouver, Wash. That
day, he had been at his brother's home, where he had two beers with
a chicken dinner.

Sexson said he never felt impaired.

"As big a guy as I am, I thought, 'No way,"' the 6-foot-8
Sexson said.

Returning home, however, a Clark County sheriff's deputy stopped
Sexson after estimating his speed at 50 mph in a 35-mph zone,
though Sexson ultimately wasn't cited for speeding.

The deputy smelled a "strong odor of intoxicants," according
to a sheriff's report, and noticed empty beer bottles in the
vehicle. Sexson said the bottles were left a week earlier after
another visit to his brother's home.

"I didn't want to leave them in his garage," Sexson explained.
"I set them in the back seat and didn't think a thing about them.
A week later, I'd completely forgotten about them."

He received a citation for suspicion of DUI, Sexson said,
because he refused to take a portable breath test at the scene.
Sexson recalled being angry. Otherwise, he would have agreed to the
field test.

"If you refuse a Breathalyzer [test] in the field,
automatically they can charge you with driving under the
influence," Sexson said. "In hindsight, I would have blown right
then, blown under the limit and driven home."

Sexson said he was transported to the sheriff's office, taking
two breath tests about 45 minutes later. Both tests registered
under Washington's legal threshold for intoxication.

"It's tough, but it's one of life's twists, things they throw
at you to see what kind of a man, what kind of a person you are,"
he said, adding that he believes the case will be
resolved soon. "Hopefully, I'll bounce back and put it behind me."

On the baseball side, Sexson can't wait to get on the field.

A career .271 hitter with 200 home runs, the 30-year-old first
baseman partially tore the labrum in his left shoulder last season
with Arizona and didn't play after May. He hit .233 with nine
homers and 23 RBIs.

"It feels great. I'm ready to go," Sexson said. "I feel
really good. I'm probably in the best shape I've been in my whole
career."

He's thrilled to be with the Mariners, the team he followed
while growing up just north of Portland, Ore.

Sexson's signing, along with third baseman Adrian Beltre, should
help Seattle recover from a season where the Mariners lost 99 games
and ranked last in the American League with 136 homers and 698
runs.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't know we were going to get
Adrian before I signed," he said. "There were things that led me
to sign, not only the fact that I live in the state. The team's
going to be pretty darn good if everything pans out."

He'll be reunited in Seattle with Mike Hargrove, the first-year
manager who was in Cleveland when Sexson reached the majors.

"He's a strong man," Hargrove said. "He was strong when I had
him in Cleveland, but he was a skinny, big kid. He's really
developed in his chest. I can remember in organizational meetings,
the whole idea was that everybody couldn't wait to see Richie with
about 30 more pounds."

Though he got a big contract, Sexson said he's most happy to be
living closer to his family in Washington. Asked to name the first
thing he did after signing, Sexson struggled to remember.

"Nothing. Fishing, probably," he said. "I had money before.
Money's never really been a big issue for me."