SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge wanted to jump-start Chone Figgins' offensive game, one that had never gotten off the ground in two years in Seattle. So prior to the season, he decided to make Figgins the Mariners' leadoff hitter.
A month into the season, consider that experiment over.
Wedge announced before Friday's game that he had informed the veteran he would now be serving in a utility role.
"I talked to Figgy today. I told him we're going to change his role, he's going to [play in] more of a utility role for us now," Wedge said. "I had a good conversation with Chone earlier today before I posted the lineup, and he was a total pro about it. He understood.
"I felt like this was the time we needed to do it. I wanted to give it as long as I felt like we could, but it just wasn't happening to the point where we felt like it should. He's been great with his attitude, he's working hard, had a decent spring and good first week. But it's just fallen off from there."
Figgins -- who hit just .188 in a frustrating, injury-riddled 2011 campaign -- was hitting .260 through April 18, but has since seen a dramatic decrease in his production. On the heels of swoon in which he has just five hits in his last 45 at-bats, Figgins' average has dropped to .189.
Second baseman Dustin Ackley, who has been hitting second, will now occupy the leadoff spot. Ackley has hit first three times this season, and is batting 4-for-13 (.308) in that role. Wedge said he does not know who will lead off when Ackley has a day off, but is not considering moving Ichiro Suzuki from the three spot back to the role he occupied for Seattle up until this season.
Wedge will rotate designated hitters
SEATTLE -- Kyle Seager received his first-career start at designated hitter on Friday. The Mariners' regular third baseman said he couldn't remember a specific instance when he was a DH in the Minor Leagues, but did it a few times in college.
"It's a little different mindset, you have to keep yourself in the game," Seager said. "A lot of guys get on the treadmill or just get running around and keep the blood flowing. There's cages down below, so I'll definitely be swinging and everything to try and stay in there."
Seager's insertion into the lineup as the DH stems from a couple reasons. Jesus Montero has been a mainstay at DH this season, but will assume more catching duties while Miguel Olivo is on the disabled list. But it's also the product of manager Eric Wedge trying to get more than nine players time in the field.
"Somebody's got to DH," Wedge said. "I want to play them all in the field, so you're going to see a lot of them mixing in and out of the DH spot. There's no rhyme or reason to it, outside of I want to get [Alex] Liddi at third, I want to get Seager at third, I want to get Seager at second. Liddi's going to bounce around, he's going to end up in the outfield one of these days.
"We'll mix and match with the DH spot. That's the luxury you have without having an everyday DH."
Montero, Jaso to split backstop duties
SEATTLE -- With Miguel Olivo on the 15-day disabled list with a groin injury, Mariners manager Eric Wedge made it clear that 22-year-old Jesus Montero would not assume the role of everyday catcher.
"He's still going to split time with [John] Jaso, so he's not going to have to worry about carrying the weight of catching every day on his shoulders," Wedge said. "We can pick and choose the spots he's going to play -- a couple days in a row, back-and-forth -- or how we're going to do it. That's what we've done here in the early going. It's only been a few days, and that's what we'll continue to do."
After Olivo left Monday's contest against Tampa Bay, Montero caught the next two games before Jaso was behind the plate for the finale of the Mariners' four-game series against the Rays. Montero again started behind the dish on Friday against the Twins.
"I just got a little bit more opportunity now," Montero said. "I feel fine. But I feel bad, too, because Miggy's down. I don't wish that [on] any player. But I'm just here for the opportunity and trying to do my best."
Even though Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tore his ACL shagging fly balls during batting practice on Thursday, Mariners pitcher Kevin Millwood said it won't change his pregame routine.
"I don't run around a lot, but guys have been doing it forever," the 37-year-old veteran said. "It's a freak accident, not much else you can say. A lot of guys do it just to move around and have a little fun. I don't think they're going to stop having pitchers shag during batting practice."
Current members of the Mariners were hitting a combined 18-for-58 (.310) off Twins starter Carl Pavano entering Seattle's matchup with the right-hander on Friday.
The Mariners have hit 14 home runs in their last 10 games heading into Friday's matchup with the Twins. That ranks them first in the American League in home runs during that span. Additionally, 19 of the last 26 runs the Mariners have scored have come via a home run.