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Smoak, Figgins, Cust rest in opener vs. Tigers

Smoak, Figgins, Cust rest in opener vs. Tigers

Smoak, Figgins, Cust rest in opener vs. Tigers
DETROIT -- Eric Wedge gave struggling veterans Chone Figgins and Jack Cust the day off Thursday, but the Mariners manager also rested young first baseman Justin Smoak as the club opened a four-game series against the Tigers in Comerica Park.

Smoak had started 39 straight games since returning from bereavement leave following the death of his father and just needed a day off, Wedge said. Adam Kennedy took his place at first base in Thursday's 4:05 p.m. PT start.

Meanwhile, Cust was benched for the second straight day in favor of Mike Carp, who just was called up from Triple-A Tacoma. And Figgins, who continues fighting through a season with a batting average at .187, was replaced in the lineup by Luis Rodriguez.

Rookie Greg Halman, hitting a healthy .857 (6-for-7) in two starts, was also in the lineup Thursday in left field -- even against the right-handed Justin Verlander -- as Wedge abandoned his normal platoon system in order to get the youngster back in the lineup with Detroit starting four straight righties.

"We're just mixing and matching," Wedge said. "I wanted to get Halman back in there and give Carp another day. We're going to work that dynamic with the three young kids between left field and the DH spot. And I needed to give Smoak a day."

Smoak's numbers have dipped a bit recently -- he's hit .227 since the start of May, dropping his season average to .249. But he leads the team with 10 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .468 slugging percentage, thus Wedge isn't worried that his transition to the No. 3 spot in the order has caused difficulties.

"He's had a lot of big hits," Wedge said. "When you're getting big hits, it means you're up there at the right time and that means a lot. It's no different than Kennedy hitting fourth last night and getting that first run on the board by being up there at that point in time.

"That's why that three-four hole range is just a tricky thing, but so important. He's going to end up playing more than he's ever played this year and it's going to be a different grind for him. He's going through a lot, too, and I think he's handling it very well."

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