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LAD@SEA: Bedard pitches 5 1/3 scoreless innings

After 18 months, Erik Bedard finally will be back on a Major League mound Monday.

Bedard, who has had three arm surgeries since his last Major League start on July 25, 2009, will take the hill for the Mariners, who open a three-game series at Texas.

Bedard signed a one-year contract with Seattle in December 2010 that wasn't guaranteed unless he made the roster out of Spring Training. The 31-year-old left-hander did just that, posting a 3.15 ERA in six spring starts.

"He was one of the best left-handers in the league when he was at his best in Baltimore," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said during Spring Training. "He feels good, and we're hoping he can stay there."

Opposing Bedard will be left-hander Derek Holland, who will swap places with righty Alexi Ogando. The Rangers' original plan was to have Ogando pitch the fourth game of the season, which would have broken up lefties Matt Harrison and Holland.

Instead, Ogando will make his first Major League start as the Rangers' fifth starter.

"The other guys have more experience doing it," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We can adjust as we go along."

Sticking with the pitching staff, Washington said the Rangers will not use their off-days to skip anyone in the rotation. Texas has the next three Thursdays in April off.

"Nobody will be skipped," Washington said. "If they go every sixth day, they will. We want to make sure these guys maintain their energy and their health."

Mariners: Former Rangers farmhands excited to face former team
Monday's game also marks the return to Texas for Justin Smoak and Josh Lueke, who were acquired last July in the Cliff Lee trade. Lueke, a right-handed rookie reliever, hopes to face his former organization. "That would be awesome," Lueke said. "I've only been to one game there, when Rick Adair was the pitching coach here. I went to the Mariners-Rangers game last year. That was nice. It's a sweet stadium." Smoak, a first baseman who is on a 13-game hitting streak dating to last season, faced the Rangers in five games last year. He hit .368 (7-for-19) with three homers and seven RBIs. "It is fun to go back there," Smoak said. "I know all the guys there and it's always fun to go back and play against the guys who gave me a chance to play professionally, not just in big leagues but I was drafted there."

• Three games into the season, the Mariners are embracing the little things they'll need to do in order to score more runs. "I think that was kind of our missing key last year, using our speed, especially up top," second baseman Jack Wilson said. "And bunting guys over and doing the little things. It's putting ourselves in that position with the hitters we've got, especially in the lower part of the lineup and taking pride in being a 7-8-9 guy for a guy that gets 200 hits every year [Ichiro Suzuki] and [Chone] Figgins, the way he's swinging the bat this year."

Rangers: Beltre welcomes intentional walks of Hamilton
Josh Hamilton was one of the most dangerous hitters in the league last year, but rarely received the Barry Bonds treatment, being intentionally walked only five times. On Saturday, Hamilton was issued his first intentional pass and cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre made the Red Sox pay, hitting a grand slam. Beltre said he understands that situation likely is to come up again this season. "It is going to happen," Beltre said. "Everybody knows the type of hitter Hamilton is. When you have a base open like that, you want to face the next guy. I took that as a challenge. It made me anxious. I don't hit Lackey well."

• The offseason acquisition of Beltre didn't only change Michael Young's role with the club, but also Andres Blanco's. Now with Young being the primary backup at second and third base, Blanco is the Rangers' only backup shortstop. Blanco said he's adjusting to his new role by simply waiting for his turn. "The only thing you can control is how you practice," Blanco said. "When the game comes, be ready. Last year, when I got my opportunity, I think I did fine and we kept winning. I hope we keep doing that."

• General manager Jon Daniels gave Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia his American League championship ring Sunday morning, despite the catcher playing in only two games for the Rangers in 2010. The Rangers are giving out rings to anybody who was on the 40-man roster last year.

Worth noting
With home runs on Sunday, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler and right fielder Nelson Cruz joined Dean Palmer as the only Texas players to homer in the first three games of a season. Palmer accomplished the feat in 1992. ... Texas' opening-series drew 144,828, the most ever at Rangers Ballpark for a season-opening, three-game series. ... Lueke made his Major League debut Sunday against the A's, allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

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