SEATTLE -- AOL Fanhouse's Jeff Fletcher reported Monday that the Twins have offered prospects Aaron Hicks and Wilson Ramos for Cliff Lee, who has a 2.34 ERA and boasts a strikeout-to-walk-ratio of almost 15-to-1.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik declined comment.

Seattle acquired Lee in the offseason hoping he would be a key piece in the push for the American League West title, but things haven't panned out as the club had envisioned. Lee has been spectacular, but the Mariners sat 14 games behind division leaders Texas entering Monday's game against the Royals.

That gap, coupled with the fact that Lee will be a high-priced free agent at season's end, has fueled rampant speculation that the Mariners will trade him. Hicks and Ramos, two of the top-ranked prospects in Minnesota's system, sweeten the deal.

Hicks, a 20-year-old outfielder, was the No. 14 overall pick in 2008 and has posted a .792 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in three seasons in Rookie and Class A ball. Ramos, 22, has hit just .208 with Triple-A Rochester this season, but he batted .317 in 2009 between Rookie and Double-A ball.

The Mariners have struggled to get regular production at the catcher position this season, and Ramos is likely trade bait for the Twins, who are set at the Major League level with Joe Mauer behind the plate.

Bedard scratched with shoulder stiffness

SEATTLE -- Erik Bedard's return will have to wait.

The Mariners left-hander was all set to make his season debut on Tuesday against the Royals and complete his comeback from offseason shoulder surgery, but the plan was scrapped when he felt stiffness after a bullpen session.

Ryan Rowland-Smith will get the start instead.

"I think it's a little bit of what he experienced before, a little bit of stiffness in his shoulder," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Rather than jump right into the start and hope it goes away, we'll find out what the doctors say about it. Hopefully they reassure him it's nothing serious and just a little bit of stiffness."

Bedard has been on the 60-day disabled list since undergoing surgery last August to repair a torn labrum. He made three rehab starts, the most recent of which came with Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday. He threw 4 1/3 innings in that outing and struck out three, with his fastball clocked in the upper 80s to low 90s.

Wakamatsu said Bedard was scheduled to meet with team doctors on Monday to determine what the next steps will be.

In AL, Ichiro has hit his best vs. KC

SEATTLE -- Few teams enjoy seeing Ichiro Suzuki step into the batter's box, but the Royals have suffered the most at his hands.

Ichiro has hit .377 against Kansas City in his career, his best average against any American League team. That's the second-highest mark by any player against the Royals (Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is first at .383).

Ichiro also has hit safely in 40 of his past 41 games against the Royals.

Pineda shining in Seattle pitching pipeline

SEATTLE -- Solid starting pitching is already in deep supply for Seattle, and the future is looking bright as well.

The future's name? Michael Pineda.

The 21-year-old right-hander dazzled in his latest outing with Triple-A Tacoma. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning on Sunday before finally being tagged for three hits and two runs. He struck out 10 and walked just one, and 61 of his 88 pitches went for strikes.

It was his third start for the Rainiers, moving him to 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings. Before the jump to Tacoma, he was 8-1 with a 2.22 ERA for Double-A West Tennessee.

That's in line with what manager Don Wakamatsu saw from Pineda in Spring Training. There, he faced 10 batters in 2 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing two hits.

"Tremendous stuff, first off," Wakamatsu said. "Young prospect with a nice pitcher's body and just an electric fastball. ... You always have to be a little careful with how fast you rush guys. He started in Double-A to prove himself, and he did a nice job there. Now he's had a lot of success in Triple-A, so you just hope that continues."

Big game gets Kotchman another start

SEATTLE -- Russell Branyan's arrival with Seattle signaled less playing time for Casey Kotchman, but the addition seems to have lit a fire under the first baseman.

Kotchman had a season-high three hits on Sunday against the Tigers and belted a three-run home run, his first dinger in 169 trips to the plate. The 3-for-3 performance boosted his batting average from .194 to .206, and it was enough to keep him in the lineup on Monday against Seattle.

Kotchman got the start at first base -- where he holds the Major League record for consecutive errorless chances -- while Branyan took over at designated hitter for Milton Bradley.

"Anytime you can get a player hot, you like to take advantage of it," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "I know [Kotchman is] feeling pretty good about his swing, and the biggest thing is he's not drifting as much as he used to."

Wakamatsu added that Bradley is day-to-day with stiffness in his legs.

Worth noting

So far in July, Mariners starters have had two appearances of less than five innings in four tries, something that happened just 12 times in the previous three months.