Mariners rookie IF-OF Mike Morse was suspended 10 days for violating baseball's steroids policy, and said he was still being punished for an "enormous mistake" he made in 2003. He's the ninth player penalized under the sport's tougher drug rules.

In a statement before last night's game against the A's, Morse apologized to "the fans, my teammates, the Mariners organization, baseball and to my family," and he offered an explanation.

"Back in November 2003 when I was 21 years old, I made an enormous mistake in my life: I took steroids while in the minor leagues," he said. "My thigh muscle, which I had previously torn, had never healed and I was scared that my career was over. I was desperate and made a terrible mistake which I deeply regret.

"In May 2004, I was punished and suspended, which I deserved, for my mistake. . . . I am responsible for the mistake of taking steroids and the positive result was not due to some over-the-counter supplement, protein shake or tainted test."

He said the steroids, however, remained in his body and he was again suspended in July 2004 while in the minors. He said those remnants resulted in another positive test this year, and he appealed those results.

"I am troubled that I will be suspended for the third time despite the fact that the scientific evidence supports that I kept my promise that I would never use steroids again," he said. "Even the [arbitration] panel states in its written decision that 'the panel recognizes that this result may be viewed as unfair to Michael Morse.' "

Earlier this season, two Mariners, P Ryan Franklin and OF Jamal Strong, were penalized for violating the steroids policy.

* COACH APPEAL: Devil Rays bench coach John McLaren asked the commissioner's office to review his three-game suspension and was allowed to remain in uniform for last night's game against the Yankees.

McLaren was suspended and fined for his outburst during a game in Boston last week. MLB Executive Vice President John McHale Jr. agreed to hear the review today.

McLaren was ejected in the middle of the ninth inning by umpire Ed Montague. The Devil Rays had disputed two calls by Montague, one on a slide at home plate and the other on a close pitch. The Red Sox scored in the bottom of the ninth to win 7-6.

* NO. 400 FOR MATSUI: OF Hideki Matsui hit his 400th professional home run last night, connecting for the Yankees in the fourth inning against the Devil Rays. Matsui's drive off Doug Waechter gave him 21 home runs this season and 68 since joining the Yankees in 2003. He hit 332 homers for the Yomiuri Giants from 1993 to 2002.

-- From News Services

Mike Morse is the third Mariners player to be suspended for violating the steroids policy, along with Ryan Franklin and Jamal Strong.