SEATTLE -- With the way the Mariners have pitched lately, it's scary to think of what adding another talented arm could do. Erik Bedard, who won 28 games from 2006-07, could be back on the mound for Seattle as early as their home series against the Royals, beginning July 5.

Manager Don Wakamatsu said Bedard, recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder, will throw for the Peoria Mariners on Saturday, with about a 70-pitch limit, and then be scheduled for a rehab start with Triple-A Tacoma.

"If Saturday goes well, then we'll probably look at Thursday in Tacoma, and if his pitch count is up and there's no problems, as early as [July 6] could be a possibility, if he doesn't need another rehab start," Wakamatsu said.

He added that Bedard's curveball has been good, and coaches are working on getting him to throw more changeups.

"The reports are pretty good, but he's still up in the zone a little bit and just fine-tuning it. What we're pleased about is the velocity was at 93 and he felt real good. He threw a bullpen yesterday, I believe, and said he felt good. The rest is fine-tuning."

Hot-hitting Wilson gets first start at first

SEATTLE -- Josh Wilson continued his migration around the infield Thursday, being penciled in to start at first base for the first time in his career.

It's the third infield position he's played in the series against the Cubs, as he filled in for Chone Figgins at second base Tuesday and played shortstop Wednesday.

Manager Don Wakamatsu will continue shuffling Josh and Jack Wilson at short, but he plans to use any way possible to keep Josh Wilson in the lineup. Wakamatsu had previously said first base would be a last resort, but with Wilson on a five-game hitting streak and batting .328 in his last 33 games, he couldn't afford to exclude him.

"We want to keep Josh in there, we talked about trying to keep him in the lineup and he's plenty athletic enough to do it," Wakamatsu said. "It'll be a good experience for him."

Wakamatsu added that Wilson getting experience at the position will add another option for later in the season, and he said the biggest adjustment may be limiting his range at first base.

"As a middle infielder you have an opportunity to get to a lot of balls, so just knowing the parameters of what balls you can get to [is the key]," Wakamatsu said.

Sweeney returns, but spots are limited

SEATTLE -- For the first time since June 2, Mike Sweeney walked to the bulletin board in the Mariners' clubhouse and saw his name listed on the starting lineup card at designated hitter.

He gave a small fist pump at the sight, which marked his recovery from lower back problems and brought back the player who, at one time this season, was Seattle's only real power threat at the plate.

Sweeney hit all six of his home runs (tied for the team lead) in an 11-game span in May, but then back pain sidelined him from June 3-18. Since his return, he's had just one at-bat -- a pinch-hit strikeout against the Reds.

Manager Don Wakamatsu said it was important to get Sweeney at-bats before a trip to face the Brewers, when Sweeney will likely be called upon as a pinch-hitter at the very least. Sweeney is glad to be back, and he says the injury has subsided for now.

"I've been feeling great for two weeks," he said. "It was killing me. I couldn't walk. Thank God I've turned the corner, and the guys have been playing great. Unfortunately, well, fortunately, Michael Saunders and [Milton Bradley] have been swinging the bat great lately, so my playing time is diminished. But we're winning baseball games, so I'm a very happy man."

Worth noting

The Mariners have posted 16 starts of at least eight innings pitched, which leads the American League. ... Josh Wilson ranks second among Major League shortstops with a .294 batting average (minimum of 40 games). ... Seattle has allowed three runs in the last 57 innings, dating back to the sixth inning in St. Louis on July 15.