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Beltran expected back in Yankees' lineup Thursday; Kelley also getting close to return

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Carlos Beltran is expected back in the New York Yankees' lineup Thursday against Oakland.

Beltran went 1 for 5 in his final extended spring training game Wednesday in Tampa, Florida. He is on his way back to New York, manager Joe Girardi says, and will probably be used exclusively as a designated hitter for a while in an attempt to protect his right elbow.

The switch-hitting right fielder was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 15 because of pain related to a bone spur in his elbow. He singled and hit two balls near the right-field fence Wednesday against Toronto minor leaguers, and said his elbow felt fine after his third extended spring game.

Beltran's return can't come soon enough for the slumping Yankees, who had managed only 10 runs in their past five games.

The eight-time All-Star was batting .234 with five homers, 10 doubles and 15 RBIs in his first season with New York.

In other news, Shawn Kelley (strained lumbar spine) threw to hitters and is on track for a rehab assignment Saturday with Double-A Trenton. After that, the Yankees will decide if Kelley needs another rehab outing or is ready to return. If all goes well, the right-hander could be activated from the disabled list in time for Monday's game in Kansas City.

New York also shuffled bullpen pieces before Wednesday night's game against the Athletics.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc, claimed off waivers Tuesday from the Angels, was added to the active roster and right-hander Jose Ramirez was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Alfredo Aceves was designated for assignment, and fellow righty Preston Claiborne was optioned to Triple-A.

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