SEATTLE -- The Mariners finally got to Safeco Field on Friday, 63 days after they reported to Spring Training in Arizona. With a season that opened in Tokyo before a return to Arizona and an opening road trip to Oakland and Texas, the club has already traveled more than 15,000 miles for its first eight regular-season games.
"It's good to be home," manager Eric Wedge said. "We've been gone for 2 1/2 months. That's a longer stretch than any of us have ever had, and we've done quite a bit in that time frame. But the guys handled it really well."
Wedge said the road has helped steel his young team for what is to come in the long 162-game haul.
"You're looking at a much more mature group. They're tougher, a little wiser for the wear," he said. "They're turning into a good baseball team right in front of your eyes and it's good to see. It's early, but it should be a lot of fun watching them play and progress and continue to improve this year."
Some of the new players are moving to Seattle for the first time. Others have established residences already, but haven't been there for months.
"It's still going to feel like we're on the road for a little bit," said second-year shortstop Brendan Ryan. "But it'll be nice to unpack and hopefully get started off on the right foot."
And for the pitchers? It's always good to come home to Safeco Field, especially after four games in hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"It seems like we've been on the road for the last two months," said Jason Vargas. "It'll be nice to settle into Seattle and get back to the cold. I'm looking forward to that."
Mariners recall Furbush with Sherrill on DL
SEATTLE -- Left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday by the Mariners, with veteran reliever George Sherrill being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore elbow.
Sherrill, 34, has been dealing with elbow soreness since the start of Spring Training in early February. He has struggled in two regular-season appearances, allowing four earned runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings with one walk.
The Mariners listed his injury as a strained flexor bundle in his elbow. His DL stint is retroactive to April 10.
"George has been struggling a little physically and having trouble getting over the hump. So we're going to get him looked at today and put him on the DL," manager Eric Wedge said. "Charlie was the next guy up. He did everything he could to make this team to begin with, but we just weren't able to make it work numbers-wise. So we've got him back up here."
Furbush, 26, was in uniform and available for Friday's home opener against the A's. The left-hander made the trip to Japan with the Mariners, but didn't pitch in either of the two opening games in Tokyo and then was optioned to Tacoma on April 4, when the Mariners reset their 25-man roster.
Furbush, acquired in the Doug Fister trade from the Tigers last July, has pitched two games in Tacoma this spring with no runs and one hit with six strikeouts in four innings.
"I had a good time in Tacoma," said Furbush. "But I'm happy to be back here for Opening Day. This is great. I just tried to do the best I could there and try to get back here as soon as I could, and this is probably a little quicker than I thought, for sure."
Furbush worked as a starting pitcher in the final two months last year for Seattle, but has been used strictly in relief this spring.
Figgins providing versatility out of leadoff role
SEATTLE -- Chone Figgins has proven to be a pleasant surprise for the Mariners in the first eight games of the season, not only batting .303 from his leadoff spot, but filling the versatile defensive role manager Eric Wedge envisioned.
Figgins, 34, started at third base on Opening Day in Tokyo, moved to left field for the next six games after Mike Carp sprained his shoulder, then filled in capably in center field on Thursday when Wedge gave Michael Saunders a day off.
It was Figgins' first regular-season action in center field since Sept. 30, 2006, when he was with the Angels. He'd started 213 games in center in his career, including 93 in '06, but that was six seasons ago.
"It was fun out there, I'll tell you that," Figgins said. "I wish I'd gotten a better throw on that one I yanked a little bit. The replay looked like it might have been a close play [with a good throw]. But it felt good to do some of those things and be out there again."
Figgins made an excellent running catch in left field to save what surely would have been a double off Blake Beavan in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to the Rangers, and has handled himself well in his return to the outfield.
"I try to freeze before I do anything. That way I can explode to come in or explode to go back," he said. "I try to drop-step and freeze and then push off forward or back, that way I'm not caught in between. I'm getting better."
Figgins was back in left field on Friday.
"He's done a good job being very comfortable playing all over the place," Wedge said. "And as you can see, that's a key for us because if something does happen to somebody else -- or in our case a couple different guys -- we can move him around and get the people we want in there.
"Offensively he's done everything we've asked him to do and he's pretty good at it. He understands just what we're looking for in the leadoff spot."
Outfielder Mike Carp, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right shoulder, began a rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. Carp injured his shoulder on Opening Day in Tokyo and is eligible to come off the DL as of Friday, but the Mariners want him to get some Minor League time first.
"We're just going to play it day-by-day right now and get him some at-bats," said manager Eric Wedge. "He's felt really good though. We'll let it play out for a while and go from there."
Franklin Gutierrez, the other Mariners outfielder on the disabled list, is not quite ready to begin his own Minor League rehab stint as he comes back from a partially torn pectoral muscle.
"It's taken him a little longer," Wedge said. "But he's been making significant progress and is feeling pretty good. We'll evaluate things again with him after this weekend."
Felix Hernandez made his third start against the A's in eight days on Friday, having faced them already on Opening Day in Tokyo and again last Saturday when Seattle traveled to Oakland. He is the first pitcher in the Majors to start against the same opponent his first three games of a season since the Yankees' Kevin Brown against Tampa Bay in 2004.
The only previous Seattle pitcher to make his first three starts against the same team was Tom House against the Twins in 1978.
Anna Graceman of Juneau, Alaska, a 12-year-old finalist on America's Got Talent, sang the national anthem during Friday's Opening Ceremonies. Olivia Hanstad of Mt. Vernon, Wash., performed the annual Make-A-Wish Run Around the Bases.