SAN DIEGO -- Interleague Play returns to PETCO Park on Friday when the Padres renew their series with the Mariners at 7:05 p.m. PT.
Look for plenty of strong pitching during the three-game series, especially with Mariners rookie sensation Michael Pineda pitching in Saturday's game against Clayton Richard, as well as 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez going Sunday against the Padres' Tim Stauffer.
There are plenty of other highlights on the Padres' Interleague slate as well.
The Padres host the Mariners and Royals and make a road trip to Target Field in Minneapolis in June to face the Twins, which will represent a homecoming of sorts for shortstop Jason Bartlett, pitcher Pat Neshek and second baseman Orlando Hudson.
Bartlett played four seasons for the Twins (2004-07), while Neshek was a member of their bullpen from 2006-08 and again in '10. Hudson played for the Twins last season.
During that same road trip, the Padres will visit Fenway Park in Boston for three games. There are numerous storylines in that one -- particularly Adrian Gonzalez facing his former team and general manager Jed Hoyer's first trip back to Boston, where he was an assistant general manager.
The Padres will be afforded the luxury of using a designated hitter in road games against American League teams. Jorge Cantu appears to be the logical choice, especially during games when the Friars face a left-handed pitcher.
San Diego manager Bud Black could also choose to use Cantu at third base, giving Chase Headley an opportunity to be the designated hitter and give him a rest in the field during the summer months.
Last year: The Padres had the franchise's second-best winning percentage in Interleague Play a year ago, going 9-6 while their pitchers posted a 3.99 ERA in 15 games. San Diego took four of six games from the Mariners.
All-Time: The Padres are 97-127 since the advent of Interleague Play. In 1999, the Padres enjoyed their best winning percentage (.733), going 11-4. Their worst mark came in 2008, when they went 3-15 and were swept by the Twins and Yankees.
vs. Mariners, Friday-Sunday: The Padres will open Interleague Play against the team they share a Spring Training facility with in Arizona, the Mariners. The Padres have an 18-19 overall mark against the Mariners at PETCO Park. Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki looks to build on a .342 batting average in San Diego.
at Twins, June 17-19: The Padres travel to Target Field in Minneapolis for the first time. San Diego went 2-1 in a series at the Metrodome during their only other visit in 2005, while the Twins swept a three-games series at PETCO Park in '08. San Diego's first-year double-play combination of Bartlett and Hudson previously donned Twins uniforms.
at Red Sox, June 20-22: This will be the Padres' first trip to Fenway Park since taking one of three in 2002. Hoyer was formerly the assistant general manager in Boston, and there are several other notable ties. The Padres will get a chance to face Gonzalez, who was a three-time All-Star with the Padres from 2008-10 before being traded to the Red Sox for four players in December.
vs. Royals, June 27-29: The Padres play host to the Royals for the first time since sweeping a three-game series at PETCO Park in 2004. This could be an opportunity for the Padres to see first baseman Eric Hosmer, one of the Royals' top prospects. Padres manager Bud Black pitched for the Royals from 1982-88.
at Mariners, July 1-3: The Padres are 17-20 at Safeco Field and have a 35-39 mark against Seattle since Interleague Play started. The Padres were 4-2 against the Mariners a year ago, taking two of three games in Seattle in May.
Players to Watch
Brad Hawpe, 1B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Aaron Harang, SP
.280 batting average, .368 on-base percentage, 15 home runs
.307 average, .365 on-base percentage
10-10, but with a 3.31 ERA in 26 career starts
Why he'll do well
Hawpe's resurgent bat has certainly played well previously against American League teams, as he's slugged 15 home runs in 279 career at-bats in Interleague Play. Hawpe is a career .385 hitter against the Mariners.
Bartlett hits nearly 30 points higher in Interleague Play than his career average, although all of that success has come while Bartlett was in the American League. Still, he'll see plenty of familiar pitchers in Interleague Play, especially during a series in Minneapolis.
While his career mark in Interleague Play is .500, Harang pitched well against American League foes while with the Reds. He was 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in three career starts against the Red Sox, a team he could see next month at Fenway Park.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.