I recently signed a new four-year contact to stay with the Mariners. Obviously, I'm very happy about it. First and foremost, Seattle is a very special place to play and I like it here a lot.

Since I've been here, I've played hard and the contract won't change that. I love to play baseball as a profession and I will continue to play the game very hard.

There was a lot of discussion back and forth for a couple of weeks trying to get my contract done. During that time, I just continued to play baseball. I was very happy when it was finally the day to sign.

A couple of weeks before my new contract was done, our shortstop, Yuniesky Betancourt, signed a new long-term contract. The fact that the two of us are going to be here together for a number of years is a great feeling. We've played together the last couple of years and we've worked hard together as middle infielders. Now we can do that together for three or four more years at least.

I started my career with Seattle and I like playing for this team. I've liked playing my whole career here and I like the city and I like the fans. I like the way the fans have embraced me here. I really love that support. One of the reasons I signed the new contract is because I don't want to play anywhere else.

One of the highlights for me playing here came last year when I was named to the American League All-Star team. Early in the year, there was talk that if I had a great year, I might be able to do that. I just didn't know.

When our manager brought the whole team together, he announced that Ichiro had made the team and then he said my name. I was happy to hear that.

Jose Lopez signed a four-year contract with the Mariners last week that will take him through the 2010 season with a club option for 2011. Originally signed by the club in 2000 as a free agent, the 23-year-old second baseman hit .282 last season and scored the winning run in the ninth inning of his first All-Star Game.