Lopez would like Gold Glove on shelf
Like predecessor, third baseman takes extra fielding practice
KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Jose Lopez sent a text message to his friend and former teammate Adrian Beltre the other day.
It said, "Hey, give me the Gold Glove."
Beltre returned the text: "You can have one of the two I have."
Hey, maybe he can get his own Gold Glove.
It's way too early to be thinking about postseason awards, but replacing Beltre, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner with the Mariners, has gone remarkably smoothly for Lopez this season.
Going into Wednesday's series finale against the Royals, he committed just two errors in 82 total chances and started eight double plays. And Beltre, now playing for the Red Sox after a five-year career with Seattle, has made four errors in 53 chances and started five DPs.
"He is committed to being the best third baseman he can be," Mariners coach Steve Hecht said after a 30-minute session with Lopez prior to a Mariners game against the Royals. "Adrian would want you to hit bucket after bucket of balls at him in Spring Training, and Jose is doing the same thing.
"It's great. It really is. I just keep hitting balls to him until he says 'stop.'"
That has been about 100 balls on the days the Mariners take early batting practice.
Lopez, a converted second baseman, works on catching the ball and then setting his feet so he can make a strong, accurate throw to first base.
"I am getting real comfortable over there," he said.
Start at Kauffman could be Sweeney's last
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals started right-hander Gil Meche in Wednesday's series finale against the Mariners, but right-handed-hitting Mike Sweeney was in Seattle's lineup as the designated hitter.
Ken Griffey Jr. has been the DH against right-handers this season, but this could be Sweeney's final game at Kauffman Stadium, and a day game after a night game gives Junior two days of rest heading into the series opener Friday night against the Rangers.
"We talked coming into this series about giving [Sweeney] more at-bats, and he had the pinch-hit single the other night," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "It's tough for anybody to not play for a long time, and especially a guy of his caliber coming back here makes it that much more special. This is his first home.
"We were going to give him one start here, and today is a good day for it."
Sweeney spent the first 13 years of his Major League career with the Royals, returning to Kauffman Stadium with the Athletics in 2008 and the Mariners last season. He hit his 100th career home run at this facility last Aug. 6.
A five-time All-Star with the Royals, he entered the day with a .298 career batting average at Kauffman Stadium.
Figgins among slow-starting switch-hitters
KANSAS CITY -- Manager Don Wakamatsu said he thinks switch-hitters have a more difficult time than one-way hitters getting heated up early in the season, and there is evidence to show that he's correct.
Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins is an example, but he's not alone.
Figgins went into Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Royals batting .345 (10-for-29) right-handed and .071 (3-for-42) left-handed.
Among other slow out-of-the-gate switch-hitters is Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, one of the best switch-hitters in the Major Leagues. He had a .143 batting average batting right-handed and was hitting .109 from the left side.
Erick Aybar, a former teammate of Figgins with the Angels, was batting .321 right-handed, and .222 left-handed. Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez had a .389 average batting right-handed and .216 left-handed.
Homestand brings plenty of giveaways
KANSAS CITY -- The second homestand of the season is loaded with promotions, starting with Friday night's series opener against the Rangers.
Besides the long-awaited regular-season debut of left-hander Cliff Lee at 7:10 p.m. PT, the first 20,000 fans receive a Felix Hernandez bobblehead.
Felix makes his sixth start of the season on Saturday afternoon (12:10 p.m.), which is also when Ichiro-designed T-shirts will be available for the first 20,000 fans. Sunday's 1:10 p.m. start is Cliff Lee poster day.
The second Ken Griffey Jr. bobblehead night of the season occurs at 7:10 p.m. May 7, depicting "The '95 Slide," the end of his sprint from first base to home plate in the Mariners' American League Division Series win over the Yankees.
The final promotion on the homestand is Mother's Day with fans receiving magnetic photo frames at the 1:10 p.m. start on May 9.
With his seventh-inning single Tuesday night, Ken Griffey Jr. moved past Andre Dawson and into sole possession of 45th place on the all-time list with 2,775 hits. Next in line is George Sisler at 2,812. ... Don Wakamatsu went into Wednesday's game needing five wins to reach the 100-win mark as a manager. ... Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Franklin Gutierrez and Ichiro Suzuki have played in all 22 games this season. ... Gutierrez has been extremely patient at the plate all season, ranking fifth in the American League in pitches seen per plate appearance (4.41). He has stayed in the batter's box long enough to see 5.38 pitches per plate appearance on the road trip.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.