NEW YORK — A day game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday became the perfect place for Engel Beltre to make his first major league start.He moved to New York from the Dominican Republic at age 8, and went to high school in the Bronx until it became more financially advantageous for him to return to the Dominican Republic to sign as a 16-year-old free agent rather than to hang around for the First-Year Player Draft.But he grew up a Yankees fan, played a game in the old Yankee Stadium, and had friends and family on hand for his first big-league action Wednesday night as a pinch runner. The start left him humbled, and so did a sharp single in his first career at-bat.“I’m so happy to be here and start my big-league career here,” Beltre said. “I always wanted to play in Yankee Stadium and have my family see me play here. That’s a big moment for me.”Putting Beltre in the lineup, though, forced manager Ron Washington to sit the team’s hottest hitter. Leonys Martin had hit in 11 straight games, a career-best streak, but Washington wanted to rest him after 14 straight starts.“It wasn’t tough,” Washington said. “My intentions were to do this a long time ago.”Washington also wiggled Jurickson Profar into the lineup for the first time in a week, giving the coveted rookie a start at third base and moving Adrian Beltre to designated hitter.A.J. Pierzynski, who had caught five straight games, joined Martin and Lance Berkman on the bench for the finale of the three-game series against the Yankees.Andrus challengeFor a guy who continues to add muscle without losing any of his prized speed, Elvis Andrus’ recent plate woes were the result of not being in an athletic position.It’s a little more technical than that, with the separation of his hands also involved, but he said the issue was purely mechanical and not related to trying to do too much as the fill-in leadoff hitter while Ian Kinsler was out.“I was fighting my swing and kind of lost my approach,” Andrus said. “I think everything went wrong at the same time.”But he’s showing signs of life. He went 4 for 8 in the first two games of the Yankees series, and his .244 average was the best it had been since June 16 before going 0 for 4 Thursday to drop to .241.Andrus, who typically wanes later in the season, understands that there is much work to do for him to have a good offensive season.“I’ve always had a really good start to the season, and this is the first time I’ve been on the other side,” he said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for me to overcome. That’s when you really have fun, when you’re struggling and you take that challenge.”Perez encoreLeft-hander Martin Perez made a splash Saturday by shutting down St. Louis’ potent lineup over seven innings, and did so by staying confident and by not thinking too much about the task at hand.That will be his plan again Friday when he faces Cincinnati to open a nine-game homestand.“Don’t try to do too much,” said Perez, who will be making his third start of the season. “I just need to have the same mentality. When I was on the mound, I was just thinking I’m the best. I just have to focus on what I have to do: throw strikes and get quick outs.”Briefly• Ron Washington said that Alexi Ogando (shoulder inflammation) will throw live batting practice at least once before going out on a rehab assignment, and the right-hander isn’t expected to return to the rotation until after the All-Star break. Ogando will throw a bullpen session Friday.• Joakim Soria will throw an inning Friday for Triple A Round Rock, but the Rangers aren’t going to throw the same workload on him as other key bullpen pieces once he is activated. He will start in low-leverage situations until he shows he’s ready for key spots, Ron Washington said.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST