SEATTLE -- It didn't take long for the "Larry Bernandez" T-shirt craze to catch on in the Mariners' clubhouse on Thursday.
The same day Nike came out with a shirt with the outline of Felix Hernandez's mutton-chopped likeness used in Mariners TV commercials, infielder Jack Wilson and backup catcher Chris Gimenez saw the shirts and made a decision.
"We thought it was funny, so I was going to grab one," said Wilson. "Then Chris wanted one, so we were going to get two. Then we started checking around and I just said, 'Get 30 of 'em.'"
So it was that every Mariners player and coach found a "Larry" shirt in their locker on Thursday before Hernandez took the mound to face the Rays.
"I walked in and saw Chris [DeWitt], our clubhouse guy, with one and I said, 'Dude, I've got to get one,'" Gimenez said. "That's the best shirt I've ever seen. That commercial is hilarious."
The TV spot shows Hernandez trying to fool manager Eric Wedge into letting him pitch on his off-day by showing up in a "Bernandez" jersey, wearing considerable facial hair as a disguise. That hair makes for the outline on the Nike shirts that are being sold at Mariners Team Stores for $22.
The shirts are not to be confused with the recently released yellow "King's Court" shirts being handed out to fans who purchase tickets in a special section at Safeco Field for games in which Hernandez pitches.
"Between this and his yellow shirts, he's creating his own clothing line here," said Gimenez. "He can call it 'Larry Wear.'"
Figgins returns to lineup
SEATTLE -- After two days of watching from the bench, Chone Figgins was back in the Mariners' lineup on Thursday for the first game of the Tampa Bay series and will be the everyday third baseman going forward, manager Eric Wedge said.
Figgins, hitting just .190 and in an 0-for-22 slump, said he was eager to get back to work.
"You know, I don't like sitting. But [if] the manager thinks it's going to be good for me, I have to do it," the veteran said. "He's the manager. But I'm back in there tonight."
What did he do the last two games during his brief hiatus?
"Go crazy," Figgins said with a laugh. "I mean, nothing out of the ordinary. I did the same thing I do every day -- work and hit, and take ground balls and watch baseball. I just didn't get to play, that's about it."
But Wedge feels the break could help spark Figgins out of his rough spell. The 33-year-old was hitting .198 last season on May 29, but rebounded to finish the season with a .259 average.
"I'm excited to have him back in there," Wedge said. "Two days in the world of baseball is a long time. But I think it was needed, and we'll see in time that it will help him."
Wedge said he and his coaches have talked with Figgins about his struggles, but the time now is for action.
"Now, it's just about him getting back in there, clear mind, wipe the slate clean and go out there and play," Wedge said. "And play with confidence and conviction -- and trust that good things will happen."
Figgins said he didn't use the two days to relax or do anything different because he's not wired that way.
"I've always sat toward the end of the dugout to pay attention to what goes on in a game, and I did the same thing when I wasn't playing," he said. "I'm watching and thinking what would I do in this situation, what is the pitcher doing to the hitters. That didn't change, it just was odd because I didn't have the opportunity to go out and battle with the guys. That's what makes it tough."
Wedge isn't in any hurry to push Figgins back to the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Shortstop Brendan Ryan was in that position on Thursday and will remain there for the foreseeable future.
"We'll keep [Figgins] down underneath for a while and just let him work his way back into it," said Wedge.
As for how often he'll be in the lineup?
"We'll play it by ear, but he's going to be our everyday guy," Wedge said. "We'll still give him a day off here or there if we feel like he needs it."
Mariners sticking with Peguero for now
SEATTLE -- Although rookie Carlos Peguero has struggled at the plate since replacing Milton Bradley on the roster three weeks ago, manager Eric Wedge penciled him in again on Thursday to face tough Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields.
Fellow left-handed hitter Mike Carp is on a tear at Triple-A Tacoma, and the first baseman has been playing third base there in recent weeks. But the Mariners didn't make the move to bring him up, even with Tampa Bay throwing four straight right-handers in the upcoming series.
Wedge said he'd like to see the 24-year-old Peguero adapt to things at the Major League level, where he was in an 0-for-14 skid going into Thursday's game.
"We're trying to give him the opportunity -- and others, as well," Wedge said. "Like I've said, one thing we want is to see some adjustments. I don't care if it's mindset, physical, mechanical, whatever. You do the work in batting practice, trust the work you're doing and then let that leak into your game. If you do, good things will happen."
The manager said Peguero has probably been too aggressive at the plate and needs to not try to overpower every pitch, given his natural strength. Peguero hit a pair of home runs in his first days in the Majors, but teams have discovered how to attack him with offspeed pitches and getting him chasing pitches early in counts.
"It doesn't take long to get a book on you," Wedge said. "And when I say long, it could be one game. Ultimately, the more ammo they have, the better the book is. But when you go up there, the focus needs to be on what you're trying to do versus what they're trying to do to you.
"Now, there has to be an awareness of what they are trying to do to you. But if you get too caught up in that, you get defensive and then you're in between. And in between just doesn't get it done up here."
That's the spot fellow left fielder Michael Saunders is finding himself in too frequently, as he, too, has struggled with a .168 average -- while often taking fastballs early in counts and then getting in a hole.
"He gets in between a lot, and sometimes he'll chase some bad balls and take some pitches, particularly fastballs he needs to be getting after," Wedge said. "That's part of what he's trying to work through."