ST. LOUIS — Engel Beltre was acquired by the Texas Rangers as a 17-year-old way back in 2007 in the Eric Gagne trade that also brought David Murphy and Kason Gabbard from Boston.Murphy has been entrenched in the Rangers’ outfield pretty much since then, Gabbard is long gone, and Beltre has been hanging around in the minor leagues while his maturity level catches up with his talent.It finally has, though that isn’t solely why Beltre was recalled from Triple A Round Rock on Sunday. He is taking the place of Craig Gentry, who has a broken bone in his left hand and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.No matter how he got to the cusp of his major league debut, Beltre knows it has been a long road. So long, in fact, that he was stunned when he got the news Saturday night.“That was the biggest surprise of my life,” said Beltre, who played Saturday at Albuquerque. “After the game, [manager] Bobby Jones told me. I was just like, ‘Wow,’ and I started crying. It made a big impact on me.“It’s been long. It’s been six or seven years down in the minors. It’s big for me to get here to get the chance and opportunity to do my work and do my thing.”Beltre comes to the Rangers as Round Rock’s hottest hitter. He was hitting .355 in June with all four of his homers this season, and had hits in 10 of his last 12 at-bats. But he’s known for his glove and his speed.“He can play some center field, and we needed a center fielder,” manager Ron Washington said. “He’s going to play. I’m going to find some playing time for him.”Gentry said that the normal recovery for the kind of fracture he suffered Tuesday after being hit by a pitch on the back of his hand is three weeks. He hopes to be swinging a bat again in two weeks.At first, X-rays were negative, and he had tried to swing every day since the injury without success. Finally, an MRI exam was taken Saturday, and it showed a small fracture.“It’s definitely going to need some rest,” said Gentry, who has seen his average fall to .216 after a 4-for-33 skid.Darvish breaking awayRight-hander Yu Darvish, scheduled to pitch Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, has relied on his slider more and more of late, which suggests he doesn’t have much faith in the command of his fastball.“I think [catcher] A.J. [Pierzynski] likes the slider a lot more,” Darvish deadpanned.But the Rangers aren’t as concerned as others have become by the lack of heaters. Except for his last start, when Oakland scored five runs against him, Darvish has continued to pitch well even though he hasn’t won a game since May 16.“I don’t think you can change Darvish,” Ron Washington said. “He’s a pitcher, and a pitcher uses his pitches. You can’t tell him the way to do it. You can make suggestions, but once the game starts, he pitches his own game.”Darvish will oppose Hiroki Kuroda in the 11th matchup of two Japanese-born starting pitchers in major league history. They also squared off last season, with Darvish and the Rangers winning 2-0 on April 24, 2012.Coming backAlexi Ogando threw a 25-pitch bullpen session, his first since going on the disabled list June 9 with right shoulder inflammation, and is scheduled to throw another Tuesday. He will need at least one rehab start before rejoining the rotation.Fellow right-hander Joakim Soria, who had Tommy John surgery 14 months ago and suffered a strained pectoral muscle in April, worked a perfect inning with two strikeouts in his second rehab appearance with Double A Frisco. He could pitch again Wednesday with Round Rock.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST