Boone returns after four game benching

SEATTLE -- Bret Boone was back in the Seattle Mariners lineup Wednesday night after being benched for four games to work with hitting coach Don Baylor on his mechanics.

Boone, the Mariners' regular second baseman, was inserted into the sixth spot in the lineup. Jose Lopez, who replaced Boone at second, was not in the lineup.

"This isn't a tryout for Bret," manager Mike Hargrove said
before the game with the Oakland Athletics. "Bret was our second
baseman before and he's still our regular second baseman."

A three-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner, Boone is hitting .227 with five home runs and 29 RBI in 64 games this season. He began this season with a .268 career batting average.

Boone had his best season in 2001, when the Mariners tied the major league record with 116 victories, hitting .331 with 37 homers and 141 RBI, all career highs.

Boone, 36, said he thought he worked out his hitting problems under the supervision of Baylor.

"We had a good few days," he said. "But you can never tell
until you go out there in a game situation."

Boone has been lunging at the ball this season.

"You need to be in the right position," he said. "If you
don't get in the right position, you're going to be in trouble."

Boone said he wouldn't feel any extra pressure from Seattle's
fans now that he's playing again.

"I play for the people in the locker room," he said, "the
other players, the coaches, the manager, the people in the

Hargrove said he just wanted Boone to be comfortable at the plate again.

"I'm glad he's back," he said. "The work that Bret's done
will hopefully pay off."

Lopez, 21, played five games since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, hitting .263 with no home runs and four RBI. He started
one game in place of Adrian Beltre at third base.

Hargrove said he doesn't know how much he will be able to get
Lopez into games now that Boone has returned to the lineup, but
said Lopez also can play shortstop and can pinch hit for the
Mariners as well as play second and third.

The Mariners regard Lopez as their second baseman of the future. Boone is in the final season of his contract.