© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

08/02/09 10:30 PM ET

Beltre returning to struggling lineup

Seattle (54-51) at Kansas City (40-64), 5:10 p.m. PT

KANSAS CITY -- It didn't require a trade, but the Mariners get an offensive shot in the arm on Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Royals.

For the first time since June 28, manager Don Wakamatsu will fill out a lineup card that has Adrian Beltre's name on it.

"Everything looks good with Adrian, and it will be good to get him back," Wakamatsu said.

Beltre had a bone spur removed from his left shoulder on June 30 and has recovered faster than expected. The original prediction was that he would miss six to eight weeks.

His return should bolster a lineup that has had problems scoring runs.

A healthy Beltre is capable of big things.

"The guy has been out for five weeks, but I like to think he's going to be fine," Wakamatsu said. "It's hard to tell how his production this year was attributed to that spur. But I have seen a big difference in batting practice the past couple of days compared to when he was 'quote' healthy.

"There seems to be more freedom in his swing."

Beltre has mentioned several times that he feels better now than at any time after his first shoulder surgery, which he underwent in September to remove bone spurs.

"His swing looks good right now," Wakamatsu said, "and we're hoping he has an immediate impact."

The bum shoulder probably had a lot to do with Beltre having just five home runs and 31 RBIs in his first 289 at-bats this season. He has hit at least 20 home runs in six of the past seven seasons, including a 48-homer breakout in 2004.

After hitting 19 home runs for the Mariners in his first season with the team, he has hit 25, 26 and 25 the past three seasons while driving in at least 77 runs in each of the past four.

But Beltre is far more pleased with his defense, which has netted him Gold Glove Awards the past two seasons.

With Beltre coming back, someone has to go and it probably will be third baseman Jack Hannahan.

"Either he or [Chris] Woodward will be the odd man out," Wakamatsu said. "Jack has done a tremendous job for us, but one thing Woody does is he plays shortstop more than Hannahan has, which gives us more versatility."

Pitching matchup
SEA: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (1-1, 3.12 ERA)
Rowland-Smith is coming off perhaps the best game of his career. He went seven innings on Wednesday, allowing three hits and two runs, walking none and striking out four. He no-hit the potent Blue Jays lineup for six innings. It was his second straight outing in which he went seven innings and he has gone at least six in 10 of his last 11 starts. He's becoming more consistent, using all his pitches aggressively to keep hitters off balance. He does not have a decision against Kansas City in five career starts. He has a 3.38 ERA against the Royals.

KC: RHP Luke Hochevar (6-4, 5.28 ERA)
Hochevar's run of four straight winning decisions ended at Baltimore on Thursday when he gave up 11 hits and seven runs in six innings. He couldn't do much good with his breaking pitches, so the Orioles sat on his fastball and whacked away. His control continued to be good, though, and he walked just one -- his only pass in his last three games. Hochevar's strikeouts dipped to just four after he'd racked up 22 in his previous two starts including a career-high 13 against Texas.

Wakamatsu, who used his 90th different lineup on Sunday, said he probably would move Russell Branyan from the No. 2 spot in the lineup to the fifth or sixth spot and move shortstop Jack Wilson into the second spot. Beltre figures to bat either third or fourth with second baseman Jose Lopez either batting in front of or behind Beltre. Wakamatsu met with Wilson on Sunday to talk about "moving him around" the lineup. ... Ken Griffey Jr. has hit 11 home runs this season and 10 of the pitchers have been first-time victims. Rangers right-hander Tommy Hunter became No. 400 on Saturday night. ... Lopez had his 15th three-hit game of the season on Saturday night, tying him with Ichiro Suzuki for the American League lead. Ichiro would have had his 16th in Saturday's game, but the official scorer changed his mind on a ball Ichiro hit the first inning, which bounced off Hunter's glove and rolled behind the mound. It was immediately ruled a hit, but changed to an error much later in the game. ... Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez will return to the starting lineup on Tuesday after being given a rest on Sunday in Arlington. "I felt it was important to give him a two-day reset so to speak and get him back in there," Wakamatsu said.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Mariners (Luke French, 1-2, 3.38) at Royals (Sidney Ponson, 1-7, 7.36), 5:10 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Mariners (Jason Vargas, 3-5, 4.71 ERA) at Royals (Bruce Chen, 0-6, 5.73), 5:10 p.m. PT
• Friday: Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 12-4, 2.78) vs. Rays (Jeff Niemann, 10-5, 3.62), 7:10 p.m. PT

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.