The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Ted Miller seems pretty confident Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre won’t be returning to the form he flashed in 2004. (link swiped from Sports Frog)

The World Baseball Classic made many Mariners fans giddy. Forget the U.S. flop — Adrian Beltre found his stroke!

Beltre, whose first season in Seattle was mediocre at best after he signed a five-year, $64 million contract, belted four home runs with nine RBIs and hit .300 for the Dominican Republic. Surely that indicated he’d rediscovered the rhythm and confidence that produced extraordinary stats in 2004 and earned him his hefty free agent deal, no matter that his bat went limp during spring training games.

Spring training numbers don’t matter, sage baseball men tell us. But the WBC? That was October baseball in March.

Yet here we are, seven games into his second season, facing the nagging possibility that Beltre may be on his way to becoming one of the great busts in Mariners history.

That uncharitable observation doesn’t mean he isn’t trying, has grown fat and happy while counting his money and deserves to be relentlessly hounded at the ballyard.

It only means that, after the Mariners’ 6-4 loss to Oakland Sunday afternoon, his .167 batting average, zero RBIs and zero extra-base hits don’t befit a man earning $12.9 million this year.

It’s becoming more and more likely that when management gazed at his .334 average and major-league leading 48 home runs and 121 RBIs from two seasons ago, they misidentified a passing comet as a new star.

Just out of curiousity (perhaps someone out there is a bigger fan of looking things up than I), what did Beltre weigh in the spring of 2004? I’m neither a doctor nor a nutritionist, but he seemed a tad more physically imposing that year than in seasons prior. Perhaps the combination of Safeco Field and AL pitching has been difficult to adjust to. Or perhaps regular drug testing messes with some hitters’ concentration more than others.