ARLINGTON -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon feels designated hitter Corey Hart is healthy enough to move into the cleanup spot now and shifted Hart into the fourth spot in place of Justin Smoak for Monday's series opener against the Rangers.
But McClendon said the team's new free agent is not close to playing right field yet, after missing all of 2013 with the Brewers following microfracture surgeries on both knees.
McClendon said Hart is "feeling pretty good from a physical standpoint" after dealing with a sore biceps late in Spring Training. His knees have held up fine to this point, but the skipper has backed off from his early spring hope that Hart could play quite a bit in the outfield.
"I'm not so sure about that one," McClendon said. "We're trying to work it, but we'll see. My biggest thing is to make sure he's healthy. It's the stopping with the knee, when he runs hard and then has to stop or cut, that's the toughest part. The arm is secondary. We'll keep working him out there and see. At some point we'll get him out there, but I don't think we're close right now."
Smoak batted cleanup in 10 of Seattle's first 11 games, but was dropped to seventh on Monday after hitting just 2-for-17 with one RBI in the five-game homestand against the Angels and A's.
"I'm just trying to get a little more power lower in the lineup, a little more balance, a little more speed up top," McClendon said. "I'm just tinkering a little bit. We got shutout and scored one run two days ago, so I'm just trying to shake it up a little bit."
Beavan set for season debut vs. Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Blake Beavan flew with the Mariners to Texas and did some pregame work on the field at Globe Life Park on Monday, but the big right-hander won't be officially added to the 25-man roster until Tuesday, when he's scheduled to take James Paxton's spot in the rotation.
Beavan, 25, will make his seventh start against the team that drafted him in 2007, then traded him to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal in 2010. He's had pretty good success against the Rangers, going 3-3 with a 2.84 ERA in seven appearances (six starts), including a 1-2 mark with a 4.37 ERA in four games in Arlington.
Beavan grew up in nearby Irving and owns a ranch about 90 miles west of Fort Worth, so this will be something of a homecoming for him. But more important, he says, is continuing to build on what he's done in two early-season starts with Triple-A Tacoma, where he went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA.
"I'm feeling good," said the 6-foot-7, 245-pound right-hander. "I just went down and tried to take care of business. I'm planning on trying to pick up where these guys have left off. It's unfortunate that Paxton is injured, but he'll be fine and get back. In the meantime, hopefully I can step in and continue what these guys have been doing, because they've been playing pretty good baseball."
Beavan won 11 games for Seattle in 2012, but lost his starting job after two outings last year and was moved into the bullpen and ultimately sent to Tacoma for much of 2013. He faced Texas once last season and allowed three hits and three runs over 3 1/3 innings in a long-relief stint in an 11-3 loss on April 21.
Beavan is tentatively listed as the starter for Sunday in Miami as well, but top prospect Taijuan Walker is making a rehab start Tuesday for Tacoma and is getting close to being called up after recovering from a sore shoulder in spring.
Beavan knows his time with the Mariners might be short, so the challenge is to stay within himself in whatever chances he gets.
"That's the hard part, for sure," Beavan said. "You want to take advantage of your opportunity while you're here, but at the same time, you don't want to get out of what you have been doing to have success, whether it was Double-A or Triple-A or whatever it might be.
"When I went to Tacoma, I just told myself, 'Don't get negative, don't get upset that you're here, just take it as an opportunity to prove and show you can help when a phone call is needed.' That was my whole plan, just to take advantage of my opportunity and not worry about stuff that I can't control and just show these guys I am capable and ready to step in if need be at this level."
Seager looks to heat up in heart of Texas
ARLINGTON -- Kyle Seager has gotten off to a slow start at the plate this season, but the Mariners' third baseman says he's fixed what he felt was a problem in his swing and is seeing the ball well now.
It can't hurt that the Mariners opened a four-game stand at Texas, where he is hitting .379 with 13 doubles, six home runs and 17 RBIs in 25 games after going 2-fo-4 with an RBI in Monday's 7-1 victory.
"I actually feel pretty good," said Seager, who brought a .121 batting average into the series. "I think I got out of my swing a little. I was over-striding a little bit. I kind of lost my angle, but I feel better now and I'm seeing the ball well, so I think it'll turn around here pretty quickly."
Manager Lloyd McClendon talked to Seager on Monday about relaxing and letting his instincts take over at the plate.
"I told him the biggest thing he needs to do is get out of the way and just let his talent take over," McClendon said. "Sometimes we out-think ourselves a little bit. Listen, he's got a nice track record and I think we'd all agree he's going to hit and produce.
"I don't think there's any adjustments that need to be made. He just needs to continue to grind it out. Maybe it'll take a broken-bat hit, but he's going to hit. You can check the book. He's going to hit. He's played 10 games and probably has 40 at-bats. I think we're OK. He's going to be just fine."
Seager says his swing got too long, so he's tightened that up and is confident better results are ahead.
"If you get off to a slow start, it's a little more visible than if you have 400 at-bats and your average doesn't vary as much," he said. "But it's early in the year and I feel good, so we'll go from there."
McClendon did say he thought Seager wore down at the end of last season, when he played a team-high 160 games, and he hopes to keep him more in the 150-game range this year.
• All-Star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will throw another bullpen session on Tuesday in Arlington, then a 45-pitch simulated game on Saturday in Miami as he works his way back from a sprained tendon in his right middle finger that wiped out his entire spring. If all goes well, Iwakuma will then be sent out on a Minor League rehab stint, most likely with Triple-A Tacoma, which means he's likely on track to join the Mariners sometime in early May.
• Right-handed reliever Tom Wilhelmsen appeared in just the first game of Seattle's just-completed five-game homestand due to a stiff back, but is healthy now and available to pitch as the club opens a seven-game road trip to Texas and Miami.
• Former Mariners utility man Mark McLemore is filling in on Seattle's radio crew for the next four days, as Dave Sims is taking the Rangers series off. McLemore will team with Aaron Goldsmith on radio on Monday and Tuesday, with Rick Rizzs and Mike Blowers handling the TV work. Then McLemore and Rizzs will do radio on Wednesday and Thursday, with Goldsmith and Blowers on TV.