Adrian Beltre left Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for the Texas Rangers’ facility in Arizona for three days of games at extended spring training designed to accelerated his return from the disabled list.
That leaves the possibility of the third baseman making his 2017 debut Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays as the Rangers open an eight-game homestand.
“We’re open to that,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “With a guy like Adrian, it’s more the game speed and the movements you can’t really synthesize in practice. He’s not going to have three weeks of spring games. It’s just not realistic.”
Beltre will begin playing Thursday. The Rangers said that he will be evaluated after playing Saturday, with him using Sunday as an off day. In camp games and extended spring games, the Rangers can control how often Beltre bats.
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It’s likely he will bat in every inning in an effort to see as many pitches as possible. That is perhaps the most important part of the weekend, with being on his feet in the field for extended stretches also a key element.
If Beltre needs additional time before returning, Triple A Round Rock is on the road Monday and Double A Frisco is off before opening a homestand Tuesday.
“It’s the next step in getting him back in a major-league game,” said manager Jeff Banister, who believes Beltre can accomplish the final rehab steps in Arizona. “The experience level at the major-league level speaks for itself.”
Beltre, who ran and took early batting practice before heading to the airport, hasn’t played this season. He opened on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained right calf late in spring training, but he was expected to be activated the first weekend of the season.
However, he experienced a new strain in the same calf while running the bases April 8 and remained on the DL.
Joey Gallo has manned third all season and has knocked 14 home runs. The Rangers seem unlikely to demote him to Round Rock because of his production and could slide him to left field, where he played during spring training.
Beltre is 58 hits shy of 3,000. Should he return early next week, he could hit the magical number in early- to mid-August.