The Alexandria Mariners - well, maybe still Dukes - will open the Carolina League season at Four Mile Run Park on Friday the 13th of April with a nuleus of 17 players, a manager and a trainer furnished by the American League's Seattle Mariners.

That will be a second-year Class A club operating under a third-year major league franchise on a one-year working agreement, but Seattle General Manager Lou Gorman painted a hopeful picture yesterday in the Potomac-front city.

"We aim to build from within, that's the way we're committed to go," Gorman told the people who brought organized baseball back to the capital area as an independent operation this year. "I spent 8 1/2 years developing another expansion club, the Kansas City Royals, and I see about 16 of my (minor league) players now on the roster of the team that has won the American League West the last three years."

So Gorman expects to man Alexandria with bona fide prospects - "our team just went 25-13 in the Arizona Instructional League." And probably not yank them away as soon as they show class - we're not fielding a Double-A farm this year, only Spokane in Triple-A and three Class A clubs, so less chance of midseason callups."