It was what happened after Thursday's loss against the A's in Oakland — the Mariners held a 57-minute meeting in an attempt to right their flailing ship — that got all the headlines.
But what happened before the game might turn out to be just as significant, if not more.
During a pregame bullpen session, Mariners pitching coach Rafael Chaves said the team might have figured out the cause of Felix Hernandez's recent struggles.
The second-year pitcher, who entered the season creating as much hype as any young hurler in team history, allowed a career-high 10 runs (though just five earned) in a 12-6 loss to the A's Tuesday. He is just 2-5 with a 5.19 earned-run average for the season.
Chaves said he thinks the team found a flaw in which Hernandez's "effort level is leading to overstriding" as he finishes his pitches. That, in turn, is leading to some of his problems with control.
"Hopefully, trying to fix one thing will take care of the rest," Chaves said, adding, "You never know for sure until game time."
Still, he said Hernandez, who will pitch Sunday, seemed energized by the session.
"Let's put it this way: He left the bullpen on a good note," Chaves said. "What happened in that bullpen is a positive towards the next outing."
San Diego outfielder Mike Cameron was one of the most popular Mariners in recent history during his tenure patrolling center field from 2000 to 2003. Since leaving Seattle, he had come back to Safeco Field before, returning last season as a member of the New York Mets. But because of an injury he couldn't play then and merely took out the lineup card, earning a warm ovation.
"Playing is definitely a different thing," Cameron said. "I haven't stepped in the [batter's] box here since the last game I played here [in 2003], so it will be interesting and I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure once the game starts, it will be like any other game. But before the game there are a lot of things that go through your mind."
Cameron received a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate in the second inning, then promptly ripped a double down the left-field line.
San Diego acquired Cameron in a trade from the Mets in the offseason. Cameron, who missed the first 17 games of the season for the Padres, entered the game hitting .245 with one homer and 11 runs batted in.
The thought was that third baseman Adrian Beltre, who sat out Thursday's loss at Oakland, might miss the entire series against the Padres to rest his ailing left hamstring. But things changed when his replacement, Willie Bloomquist, was hit in the hand by a pitch in the ninth inning of the game against the A's.
Bloomquist showed up at the park Friday with the hand still sore, so Beltre was forced back into the lineup, though not until he did some running before batting practice to make sure he was OK.
"Adrian said his leg felt a lot better and he wanted to play, and we really had no choice in the matter [due to Bloomquist's injury]," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "[Beltre] came out and ran and ran good, so evidently the day off did him some good. Hopefully we can get through this without making anything worse."
• Despite rumblings of possible player moves in the wake of the three-game sweep at the hands of the A's, the roster was the same Friday as the day before. Even the one move the Mariners were expected to make, calling reliever Julio Mateo off the disabled list, didn't happen.
Hargrove said Mateo, on the disabled list since April 29 with tendinitis in his right shoulder, threw 35 pitches in a simulated game in Oakland and it was decided to give him a little more rest. Hargrove said Mateo will likely be activated today. Likely to be sent down to make room are Sean Green or Emiliano Fruto.
• The first 25,000 fans through the gates Friday received Richie Sexson bobblehead dolls, which the team billed as one of the tallest bobbleheads in the game, standing 8 ½ inches.
• SS Yuniesky Betancourt and 2B Jose Lopez spent some extra time before the game working on their fielding in the wake of some sloppy play on the last road trip.
• Ichiro's single in the first inning gave him a 13-game hitting streak.