Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez's older sister passed away late last week after a lengthy battle with cancer.

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Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez’s older sister passed away late last week after a lengthy battle with cancer.

The team did not actually find out the details until his agent contacted GM Jack Zduriencik on Monday. It turns out Lopez’s sister actually passed away before he could make it down to Venezuela to see her. But he did make it down in time for her funeral.

Lopez is expected to fly back to Seattle and arrive late this afternoon, but not in time to play in the game against the Padres.

Lopez has been through a lot the past two years. His brother died in a motorcycle crash two years ago this month.

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• Catcher Kenji Johjima could rejoin the Mariners on their road trip later this week. Manager Don Wakamatsu said Johjima will still be considered the No. 1 catcher but that Rob Johnson has earned more playing time and will be used more than just once every five or six days.

Johnson’s catcher’s ERA of 2.65, still a highly debated statistic, is the best in all of baseball at the moment among regular catchers. Johjima’s is 5.00.

• Pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma after being activated from the 15-day disabled list. The left-hander has been coming back from triceps tendinitis.

Wakamatsu said he had the option of bringing him up to use in the Seattle bullpen but he’d rather the lefty stay in Tacoma and work on logging more innings.

“We still see Rowland-Smith as a big part of our future,” Wakamatsu said. “He will more than likely be up here later in the year. It’s just a matter of letting him develop confidence with his pitches and building his pitch counts up.”

• Utility player Chris Woodward said his groin is feeling better, though not 100 percent. He was hurt in leading off first base early in Sunday’s game. “The dirt was wet and at one point, I broke for second and kind of slipped,” he said.

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For the record

35-35 .500

Streak: L1

Home: 19-15

Road: 16-20

v. AL West: 13-14

vs. L.A.: 7-6

vs. Oakland: 6-3

vs. Texas: 0-5

vs. AL East: 8-4

vs. AL Cent.: 7-11

vs. NL: 7-6

vs. LHP: 11-8

vs. RHP: 24-27

Day: 13-11

Night: 22-24

One-run: 18-13

Extra inn.: 4-4

Home attendance

Tuesday’s crowd: 23,537

Season total: 928,986

Biggest crowd: 45,958 (April 14)

Smallest crowd: 16,002 (May 19)

Average (34 dates): 27,323

2008 average (34 dates): 28,514

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