KANSAS CITY -- The travel plans for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez changed on Thursday. Instead of a weekend rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma, Gutierrez will instead report to Class A High Desert.
With rain in the forecast for Tacoma, the Mariners opted to send Gutierrez to a spot where the weather is expected to be much nicer.
Gutierrez has been recovering from stomach problems and the Mariners want to see him play some games in the Minors before he returns to Seattle's lineup.
"For me, it's the energy level and the strength," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He doesn't have to be back to where he was weight-wise. And then the baseball reps. ... timing, seeing the ball off the bat. We need to make sure he can get through a full game and can play at least every other day at first. Those are some of the parameters that I have in mind."
Cust gets night off; Kennedy bats cleanup
KANSAS CITY -- With the Royals starting left-hander Bruce Chen on Thursday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge decided to give designated hitter Jack Cust a night off. Wedge went with Adam Kennedy as his cleanup-hitting designated hitter.
Cust, who was the DH in 11 of Seattle's first 12 games, arrived in Kansas City with a .175 average. Cust had no homers, four RBIs and 14 strikeouts through 40 at-bats.
"Jack and I had a nice talk," Wedge said. "We're just letting him watch the game [Thursday]. He's putting a little heat on himself. He has handled everything great, but the left-hander [Chen] gives him a chance to watch a big league baseball game, relax and be ready late. We'll get him right back in there [Friday]."
Wedge said he wants to keep Justin Smoak in the No. 5 slot, so Kennedy -- who entered Thursday hitting .333 -- was the choice to hit cleanup.
"I don't think we have a true four-hole hitter right now," Wedge said. "What you want to do is put somebody there who's a veteran and swinging the bat well. That's what Adam is doing."
Kennedy had a ready explanation for what he'd be trying to do while cast as the cleanup hitter.
"I'm just setting the table for Jack [Wilson] and the guys at the bottom of the lineup," Kennedy said with a smile.
Figgins back in lineup against Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Chone Figgins returned to the lineup on Thursday against the Royals after missing two games with a bruised left thumb.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge had planned on Figgins being ready for the entire series and a quick check with Figgins after the club arrived at Kauffman Stadium confirmed that Figgins was available.
"He feels good," Wedge said.
Figgins entered Thursday's action just 6-of-38 (.158) while playing in Seattle's first 10 games.
Mariners logging some frequent flyer miles
KANSAS CITY -- In a scheduling quirk, the Mariners are making an up-and-back trip to Kansas City. Seattle crossed two time zones for the four-game series and will head right back home on Sunday night.
It marks the first time since 2008 at Texas that the Mariners crossed two time zones for a series of four games or fewer before going right back to Seattle. It's the first time to have those travel arrangements out of the American League West since Sept. 15-17, 1995 when the Mariners visited the White Sox.
First baseman Justin Smoak said the long up-and-back trip isn't something that bothers him because he remembers just how tough travel can be in the Minors.
"This trip sure beats those long bus rides in the Minor Leagues," Smoak said. "The first two games are night games, so it gets you acclimated to the time change. To me, it's not bad."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.