SEATTLE -- There was some confusion with the ground rules at Safeco Field after Detroit's Ryan Raburn hit one of the trusses on the retractable roof with a foul popup in the first inning of Monday's 8-3 Mariners loss.
While the Safeco Field ground rules listed in the Mariners media guide indicate a ball that hits the roof can be caught for an out, third baseman Chone Figgins said after the game that the third-base umpire told him the ball was out of play once it hit the overhanging truss in foul territory.
Manager Eric Wedge said that indeed is the rule, as spelled out on ground rules listed in the clubhouse that apparently have been tweaked over the years. Until Monday, no batter had hit the roof since the ballpark opened in 1999.
"If it hits the roof in foul territory, it's dead. It doesn't matter what happens after that," Wedge said. "It's just a foul ball. If it hits -- and I looked up there last night, and unless Dave Kingman comes back from retirement -- if it hits the top in fair territory then it's live, wherever it lands or whoever catches it."
Mariners officials estimated the roof truss is about 175 feet above the field at the place where Raburn's foul ball hit. The ball then deflected back between a startled Figgins and catcher Miguel Olivo, falling to the turf in foul territory before they could react.
Figgins said he was surprised the ball wasn't in play, given ground rules at the Rays' Tropicana Field allow such balls to be caught in similar situations. Given the Safeco Field roof isn't closed that often, and no one had ever hit it before, it's not likely a play that will come into play very often.
"I've never seen a fly ball hit that high," Figgins said.
Mariners place Smoak on bereavement list
SEATTLE -- Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak was placed on the bereavement list Tuesday after flying to South Carolina to be with his father, who died later in the evening. Ronald (Keith) Smoak was 54 and been battling lung cancer in recent weeks.
Outfielder Carlos Peguero was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take his place on the roster. Smoak can remain on the list for three to seven days.
Backup catcher Chris Gimenez, on the roster because of his versatility, will start tonight against the Tigers in Smoak's place at first base. Manager Eric Wedge indicated he'll platoon the right-handed-hitting Gimenez and left-handed Adam Kennedy at first base during Smoak's absence.
Wedge said there will be no pressure on Smoak to return quickly, despite his growing importance in the middle of the Mariners' lineup.
"That's something I am so respectful of," Wedge said. "When it comes to family, everything is secondary as far as I'm concerned. When he contacts us and lets us know how things are going, we'll go from there."
Smoak, 24, has been the Mariners' hottest hitter to start the season and is riding a seven-game hitting streak, including his second home run of the year in Monday's 8-3 loss to the Tigers. He leads the Mariners with a .291 batting average, and his .885 OPS ranks third among American League first basemen behind Miguel Cabrera (1.073) and Paul Konerko (.904).
The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Peguero has hit .311 in 12 games for Tacoma with two home runs, seven RBIs and a .511 slugging percentage. The 24-year-old left-hander has five walks and 10 strikeouts in 45 at-bats.
Because of the circumstances, Peguero could be with the team for only a few days, but Wedge indicated he'd like to see the young outfielder play a little.
"He's not in the lineup today, but we will get him in there," Wedge said. "This is somewhat of a special situation here, with the way the bereavement list works. More than likely it's something short term, but you never know. We've seen young ballplayers parlay that, too."
Peguero showed big power in Mariners camp this spring and had an early Cactus League home run, but he wound up batting just .176 (3-for-17). The Dominican native led the Double-A Southern League with 23 home runs for West Tenn last year and is an intriguing prospect who got off to an excellent start this season in his first time in Triple-A.
"We had a lot of young ballplayers I was impressed with in Spring Training and he was right up at the top of the list," Wedge said. "He's very athletic for a big guy. He gets up there and doesn't get cheated. He's aggressive. I think he has a chance to be a pretty good all-around player."
Peguero said he got a call from Rainiers manager Daren Brown on Tuesday morning telling him to come to Cheney Stadium early for a meeting, at which time he learned of his sudden promotion.
"This is a dream come true for me, my family, my friends, the people who care about me," Peguero said. "It's something I'm really excited about. I'm here for a reason. I'm here to help and work every day hard and help the team."
With Gimenez playing first base, the Mariners don't have a backup catcher for Tuesday's game. Gimenez can shift behind the plate if needed and Kennedy can play first base. Kennedy also is the emergency third catcher, though he's never played the position.
Wedge fine with Bradley wearing earplugs
SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley has taken to wearing earplugs both in the field and at the plate for the past 10 games, but manager Eric Wedge said he has no problems with the somewhat unusual move for a player in his own home park.
Bradley initially complained to a security guard in the middle of the fifth inning while playing the outfield in Oakland in the second game of the season. He then ran in from left field to talk to an umpire about things he was hearing from Safeco Field fans in the seventh inning of the second home game against the Indians on April 9.
The next time he came to the plate in Seattle he was wearing earplugs, and he's continued that practice ever since, both at home and on the road.
"Yeah, Milton is fine," Wedge said."It's more of a focus for him. It helps him concentrate and allows him to stay in a zone a little better. It's just one of those things that, hey, if it helps him, then so be it. It's my job to manage everybody and put them in the best position to succeed. And whatever he has to do to do that, that's what we're going to do."
Wedge said the plugs haven't caused any problems with teammates in the field either.
"In regard to communication, he's fine," Wedge said.
It doesn't hurt that Bradley entered Tuesday's game against the Tigers hitting .280 (7-for-25) with two home runs and seven RBIs since going to the earplugs.
"He's done a very good job here in the early going," Wedge said. "I love the way he's busting it and getting after it. I think you've seen some consistency with that. We'd like to continue to see what we're seeing from Milton."
Closer David Aardsma made his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday night, giving up a two-run home run to Colorado Springs designated hitter Mike Jacobs in the eighth inning of a 6-3 loss. Aardsma, returning from hip surgery, allowed two hits and two runs with two walks in one inning while throwing 22 pitches. Manager Eric Wedge has said he'll likely need to make 3-4 appearances before being considered for a return to the Mariners.
There was no word on Franklin Gutierrez's situation Tuesday as he was scheduled to check in at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for further tests on his lingering stomach issue. Wedge said it would likely be several days before anything is learned and the Mariners haven't scheduled a return date home yet for the Gold Glove outfielder.
The Mariners' 13 runs on Tuesday were their most since they scored 15 on May 21 last season against San Diego.
Outfielder Carlos Peguero made his Major League debut in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement for Ichiro Suzuki.
Known for their impatience at the plate in recent years, the Mariners overtook the Major League lead in walks by drawing 11 more, raising their total to 79. Colorado is second with 76.