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Baseball notebook: Mets get Beltran back

Carlos Beltran is back with the New York Mets and will return to the lineup immediately after the All-Star break.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Beltran will play center field and bat cleanup Thursday night in San Francisco. The five-time All-Star has been sidelined all season following right knee surgery in January.

Beltran, a former Spokane Indian who had been on a rehab assignment with Class-A St. Lucie, returned to Citi Field on Sunday before New York’s game against the Atlanta Braves. He said he’s pain-free and ready to go, but he’s not sure how rusty he’ll be at the outset.

Beltran’s return creates an intriguing issue for Manuel regarding playing time because switch-hitter Angel Pagan has excelled as the everyday center fielder in Beltran’s absence.

Four pitchers added to All-Star rosters

Pitchers Justin Verlander, Andrew Bailey and Jered Weaver have been added to the American League team for the All-Star game. Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo was added to the National League roster.

A couple of spots opened up because of a new rule – pitchers who start on Sunday are ineligible to play in Tuesday night’s game. All-Stars CC Sabathia of the Yankees and Trevor Cahill started Sunday, leaving them out.

A.L. manager Joe Girardi of the Yankees selected Weaver, whose Los Angeles Angels are hosting the All-Star game. Weaver also started Sunday so he can’t play, but he can take part in the festivities and be announced to the home crowd.

Kuo has been selected to replace injured Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward.

Heyward is on the 15-day disabled list because of a deep bone bruise in his left thumb. He will travel to Anaheim, Calif., where the game will be held Tuesday.

N.L. manager Charlie Manuel originally picked Braves closer Billy Wagner as a replacement, but he declined because of a sore ankle.

Astros tab Bagwell new hitting coach

Former Astros All-Star Jeff Bagwell is taking over as Houston’s hitting coach after the team fired Sean Berry on Sunday.

Berry became “a victim of circumstances” as the Astros’ offense has sputtered this season, general manager Ed Wade said. In 15 seasons with the Astros, the former first baseman set franchise records with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBIs. Bagwell was the National League rookie of the year in 1991, the N.L.’s most valuable player in 1994 and a four-time All-Star.

Beckett goes four innings in rehab start

Boston’s Josh Beckett allowed one run and two hits while pitching four innings during a rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Beckett didn’t issue any walks and struck out four, throwing 42 of 68 pitches for strikes.

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Carlos Beltran will soon get his first action of the season.

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Associated Press