SEATTLE -- Edgar Martinez's number will be retired by the Mariners on Saturday night at Safeco Field, but his presence figures to linger far beyond the outfield wall where his No. 11 will forever hang next to Ken Griffey Jr.'s 24 and Jackie Robinson's 42.While no Mariners player ever will
SEATTLE -- Edgar Martinez's number will be retired by the Mariners on Saturday night at Safeco Field, but his presence figures to linger far beyond the outfield wall where his No. 11 will forever hang next to Ken Griffey Jr.'s 24 and Jackie Robinson's 42.
While no Mariners player ever will don the No. 11 again, Martinez himself remains a fixture in that uniform in Seattle's dugout in his third season as the club's hitting coach. And that fact -- and his impact on the current players -- speaks as loudly as his outstanding 18-year playing career in Seattle.
"He's meant a lot to me," Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano said. "I always stand next to him during games and try to learn as much as I can. He's a resource. He has a good eye. And he has a great brain. One of the best brains I've ever been around."
The 54-year-old Martinez has remained one of the treasures of Mariners' history, the rare player who spent his entire career in one city and performed at an incredibly high level while maintaining a humble approach.
Even now, as he puts the final touches on the speech he'll deliver during Saturday's pregame ceremony, his thoughts are drawn not to his own accomplishments, but to those who helped him get there.
"I'm sure it's going to feel great and there'll be some emotions," he said. "I'm not quite sure how it's going to feel. I know it means a lot. It makes me reflect on my career, way back when I first started playing and just looking to the past and the people that have been involved in my life and helped me and guided me and taught me all those years, whether family, friends, teammates or coaches. That has a lot of meaning."
Now it's Martinez turn, passing along his knowledge to others. And Mariners manager Scott Servais said he's one of the rare stars willing to put in the grueling work after their playing days are done.
"He's an icon in the city and what he's done here baseball-wise," Servais said. "But for him to spend all the time in the cage, it's the underground, it's where all the sweat and blood and tears and everything happens. It's where you figure things out and to see him, first guy in there, last to leave, always talking hitting, talking with our hitters, trying to understand them as well as he's trying to understand their swings, it's pretty unique."
Martinez will kick off his weekend by raising a No. 11 flag above the Space Needle on Friday morning that will fly through Saturday night when his number goes permanently on the wall adjacent to Edgar's Cantina in the ballpark that sits on Edgar Martinez Way.
How does it feel to remain the most-popular Mariner of all time?
"I'm not 100 percent sure about that," Martinez said with a laugh. "But I'm amazed at the way I've been treated here in this city by the fans and the support they've given me, from the very beginning."
As for Friday's venture atop the Space Needle?
"I don't like heights too much, but I've heard it's safe," he said. "It's incredible to see that not only the organization, but all the people in the city are thinking about the number retirement as something special. That's pretty cool."
The weekend at Safeco will kick off with a Friday night Edgar bobblehead night. Saturday will be the retirement ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. PT and a replica plaque for the fans and Sunday offers an Edgar replica jersey to all those attending the afternoon series finale. All three giveaways will be for the first 45,000 fans in attendance.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.