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06/11/08 7:40 PM ET

Shelton comes around at plate for Texas

First baseman says understanding role has helped him prepare

KANSAS CITY -- Chris Shelton is still hitting .222. That number's not going to jump out on any team, especially one with as much offensive power as Texas.

But Tuesday night against the Royals, Shelton came through with one of the game's biggest hits, an RBI single in the eighth that tied the game. His average is still low, but it's gone up from .056 as Shelton has hit .270 in his past 23 games.

"If you can put the ball in play hard, more likely than not you're going to have something happen for you," Shelton said. "That's been my focus going out there. Put a line drive across and see what happens."

That's what he said he was thinking on Tuesday night when he went to the plate with two outs in the eighth. Shelton ripped a single into the outfield, scoring David Murphy.

Finally, Shelton, a first baseman who is usually a reserve, is beginning to hit like he hoped when he was called up in late April. After struggling for a few games, Shelton said he started taking extra batting practice before games and stopped pressing.

It also helps that he's getting used to his role as a reserve. Shelton played as a starter for most of his time with the Detroit Tigers in 2005 and 2006. Now, his best opportunities to play are as a replacement late in games. On Tuesday, Shelton showed that he's ready to handle that role.

"One of the biggest things I want to do is go out there and be ready to play when my name is called," he said, "and I'm starting to be more prepared for that situation."

Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.