Monday's game also marks the return to Texas for Justin Smoak and Josh Lueke, who were acquired last July in the Cliff Lee trade. Lueke, a right-handed rookie reliever, hopes to face his former organization. "That would be awesome," Lueke said. "I've only been to one game there, when Rick Adair was the pitching coach here. I went to the Mariners-Rangers game last year. That was nice. It's a sweet stadium." Smoak, a first baseman who is on a 13-game hitting streak dating to last season, faced the Rangers in five games last year. He hit .368 (7-for-19) with three homers and seven RBIs. "It is fun to go back there," Smoak said. "I know all the guys there and it's always fun to go back and play against the guys who gave me a chance to play professionally, not just in big leagues but I was drafted there." Three games into the season, the Mariners are embracing the little things they'll need to do in order to score more runs. "I think that was kind of our missing key last year, using our speed, especially up top," second baseman Jack Wilson said. "And bunting guys over and doing the little things. It's putting ourselves in that position with the hitters we've got, especially in the lower part of the lineup and taking pride in being a 7-8-9 guy for a guy that gets 200 hits every year [Ichiro Suzuki] and [Chone] Figgins, the way he's swinging the bat this year." Rangers: Beltre welcomes intentional walks of Hamilton
Josh Hamilton was one of the most dangerous hitters in the league last year, but rarely received the Barry Bonds treatment, being intentionally walked only five times. On Saturday, Hamilton was issued his first intentional pass and cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre made the Red Sox pay, hitting a grand slam. Beltre said he understands that situation likely is to come up again this season. "It is going to happen," Beltre said. "Everybody knows the type of hitter Hamilton is. When you have a base open like that, you want to face the next guy. I took that as a challenge. It made me anxious. I don't hit Lackey well." The offseason acquisition of Beltre didn't only change Michael Young's role with the club, but also Andres Blanco's. Now with Young being the primary backup at second and third base, Blanco is the Rangers' only backup shortstop. Blanco said he's adjusting to his new role by simply waiting for his turn. "The only thing you can control is how you practice," Blanco said. "When the game comes, be ready. Last year, when I got my opportunity, I think I did fine and we kept winning. I hope we keep doing that." General manager Jon Daniels gave Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia his American League championship ring Sunday morning, despite the catcher playing in only two games for the Rangers in 2010. The Rangers are giving out rings to anybody who was on the 40-man roster last year. Worth noting
With home runs on Sunday, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler and right fielder Nelson Cruz joined Dean Palmer as the only Texas players to homer in the first three games of a season. Palmer accomplished the feat in 1992. ... Texas' opening-series drew 144,828, the most ever at Rangers Ballpark for a season-opening, three-game series. ... Lueke made his Major League debut Sunday against the A's, allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning.