Sports

Battling Beltre bats fifth for change

Seattle – Adrian Beltre has been looking for his stroke most of this season, and began the 26th game of the season hitting .216 and – for the first time – not batting in the cleanup spot.

It was no demotion.

“Ken Griffey Jr. is out for a day or two, and with Mike Sweeney batting third, we dropped Adrian to fifth just to split up the right-handed hitters around Russell Branyan,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.

Though he has yet to hit a home run this season, Beltre has been making adjustments at the plate, especially with two outs, and had hit safely in his previous five games.

“Adrian’s just battling up there,” batting coach Alan Cockrell said. “With two strikes, you’ve got to shorten up a little, just not so much that you can’t still hit a mistake hard.”

Asked if he’d seen a new two-strike approach in Beltre’s at-bats, Wakamatsu nodded.

“I think it’s getting to a point where he knows he’s got to do it whenever he can,” Wakamatsu said. “Those are adjustments you like to see out of him. I thought in Chicago he laid off some good pitches and still had some healthy at-bats. Early in the Oakland series he went back a little bit. But to see those swings, that’s a sign that he’s making a concerted effort to produce.”

The Mariners have tried to persuade Beltre that bat speed comes from a smooth swing with less body movement involved, not more.

“The more body you see in (the) swing, the less bat speed and less consistency,” Wakamatsu said. “When he’s swinging and falling across the plate, we told him he’s trying to generate power but he doesn’t need to because he’s strong enough. It’s a process.”

Griffey isn’t well

What’s up with Griffey? Nothing you’d want, apparently.

“It’s an inflamed colon,” Griffey said, sitting uncomfortably in front of his locker before the game Monday. “I’ve dealt with it before, every year or so.”

How does it feel, one writer asked.

“It just feels like someone kicked you in the damn side. I would be more than happy to demonstrate it on you,” he replied, laughing. “Just sign this waiver that I already have printed up.

“It usually lasts about a day. Why does it come on? It can range from things you eat, to mood swings, to the loss of a little puppy. It is just sore. It will be all right. It just comes on when it wants to. It started this morning.”

There you have it.

Short hops

Closer Brandon Morrow threw a second bullpen session without pain Monday, will throw another in Minneapolis and will likely come off the disabled list on Saturday. … Left-handed pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith is scheduled to throw in the bullpen today, then be re-evaluated as he works to return from an elbow ailment. …

The Mariners began Monday with a 7-4 record in one-run games, and those seven one-run wins were the most in the American League. … The team also began the night with three starting pitchers – Felix Hernandez (2.38 ERA), Erik Bedard (2.61) and Jarrod Washburn (2.97) in the league’s top 10 in earned run average.

On tap

Seattle concludes its series with Texas with a 1:40 p.m. game today that will be broadcast on FSN. Probable starting pitchers: Vicente Padilla (1-1, 8.27) vs. Erik Bedard (2-1, 2.61).

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