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Figgins returns to Mariners lineup after rest

Following a two-day break, Chone Figgins returned to the lineup Thursday, and he’s there to stay according to Mariners manager Eric Wedge.

“We’ll play it by ear, but he’s going to be our everyday guy,” Wedge said.

Figgins was the Mariners’ everyday guy for most of the season, but he was held out of the lineup last Friday as his batting average plummeted below .200. After three more hitless games, Wedge took Figgins back out of the lineup, this time for two games, hoping the break would rejuvenate the third baseman.

Figgins responded by going 1 for 4 with one run and one RBI during an 8-2 win over Toronto.

“I’m excited to have him back in there,” Wedge said prior to Thursday’s game. “Two days in the world of baseball is a long time, but I think it was needed. … Now it’s just about him getting back in there, clear mind, wipe the slate clean, and go out there and play. Play with confidence, play with conviction, and trust that good things are going to happen. You have to think and believe that good things are going to happen when you play this game, and I’m confident that he’ll do that.”

Wedge said the plan is to keep Figgins, who recently moved from second to eighth in the lineup, near the bottom of the order.

Figgins said he didn’t do a lot different with his off days, “Because I pretty much hit a lot and work out, so it didn’t change other than not being able to go into the game.”

As for Wedge’s decision to give him two more days off, Figgins said he didn’t like the decision, but understood.

“It’s hard, because I’m one of those players that loves to be in there every day,” he said. “I respect the decision that he made, because I understand the game, but still as a competitor it’s hard to sit there and watch the game.”

Bernandez inspires

Larry Bernandez, the fictitious pitcher who has proven to be the star of this year’s Mariners commercials, has gained quite a following. Bernandez, a long-haired, sideburn-wearing, bespectacled version of Felix Hernandez, has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and after thousands of fans clamored for it, he will even have a bobble head night at Safeco this summer.

Bernandez has his own T-shirt as well. New this week to the Mariners’ team shops is a blue shirt with a large silhouette likeness of Bernandez’s face. Catcher Chris Gimenez was among the players wearing the Bernandez shirt before the game after Jack Wilson bought them for the team.

Of note

If the Mariners can finish this homestand with a series win over Tampa Bay, they will win six consecutive series for the first time since 2001. … Ichiro Suzuki was the fourth-leading vote getter among A.L. outfielders in the first wave of All-Star voting released Wednesday, trailing Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton. … Michael Pineda ranks fifth in the A.L. and first among major league rookies in ERA after lowering his mark to 2.30 Wednesday. He also ranks ninth in the league in strikeouts with 73.

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