Adrian Beltre made for a quick day Monday for the Texas Rangers beat reporters, filling our notebooks with talk about roster construction, his future and his health.
Usually given an hour to spend in the clubhouse, the local scribes were there less than 30 minutes. Nearly 15 of those were spent at Beltre's locker.
His State of Adrian address wasn't all that transpired as position players reported for spring training on a chilly day that will be part of a chilly week in which temperatures aren't expected to climb above 60.
Where are we, Arizona or the Arctic Circle?
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Enough weather talk. More Beltre talk.
Here's the Surprise Five from Monday.
1. Need to know which free agents are still out there for the taking? Just ask Beltre.
Oh, he knows.
Maybe some of that is because his agent, Scott Boras, represents many of the major remaining free agents — namely J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas.
Beltre knows because he wants them so that (he and) the Rangers have a better chance to make the World Series this year. The American League West deck, it appears to him, is stacked against the Rangers.
He is so gung-ho on the Rangers adding a big-time talent that he is willing to defer some of his 2018 salary so that the club could have more flexibility. He did something similar a few years ago when he flipped the payouts on the final two years of his original contract to give the Rangers $2 million extra.
He doesn't have a contract beyond this year, so maybe general manager Jon Daniels can add to this season's team and get a jump on the next free-agency period.
Here's a thought: Defer a chunk of Beltre's 2018 contract in the form of a restructured two-year deal for this season and next. Pay him $14 million this season and, oh, $18 million next.
What could Daniels do with $4 million? It might not make the difference in getting Arrieta's price tag to work, but it might on Alex Cobb.
The Rangers don't want to give Beltre a chance to be wooed away this off-season, so Daniels and Boras could get together on a deal that would help make Beltre happy (or happier) and maybe find common ground on Arrieta.
That's a dreamy scenario and probably highly unlikely, at least the Arrieta part. Extending Beltre? That's not so far-fetched.
2. Beltre said that there is one circumstance that would really push him toward retirement after this season: The Rangers winning the World Series.
"That would probably make it easier for me to go home," he said.
Otherwise, Beltre said that he assumes he will be playing next season somewhere. His preference is to play with the Rangers.
They signed him before the 2011 season and nearly won him that elusive World Series that season. They haven't been back, though they have made three playoff appearances in the ensuing six seasons. Another time they fell a game short.
The Rangers told him they would be contenders, and they have delivered.
"I don’t think that I’m thinking about playing anywhere else right now," Beltre said. "In the perfect world, I want to be here, I want to win the World Series this year, and I want to pretty much keep playing. I would like to stay here, but that’s beyond my control.
"So, as of right now, I don’t think about any other team. I’ve been here eight years, and they’ve been nothing but good to me. The fans have been unbelievable, and there’s no reason for me to think about any other team right now."
"Right now" would indicate that things could change. A lousy season with no forecast for improvement in 2019 could push him elsewhere. A lousy season in which the Rangers are presented with a trade that he would need to OK could push him elsewhere.
"We'll see how it goes," he said. "It’s going to be year by year. After the year is over I will decide what is next."
3. Beltre had good news to report: He isn't injured.
That wasn't the case last spring, when he showed up with a strained calf that was strained again and kept him out until late May. His health as of Monday?
"I'm scary good," Beltre said.
He was open-minded to changing his off-season routine, dumping long runs in favor sprints, and he is open-minded to spending more time at designated hitter.
"I had a talk with JD, and he let me know he would like me to DH more," Beltre said. "It depends how it goes. If I feel great, I don’t need to DH, but if I need a day or two to give my legs a breather, I will DH. I want to go in the lineup as much as I can."
That bit of information was then presented to manager Jeff Banister, who said that the goal is to keep Adrian as healthy as possible. If that means more DH days, so be it.
When Beltre was in the designated hitter role last season, Shin-Soo Choo moved from DH to right field and Nomar Mazara moved to left field. Banister didn't want to give away his DH plans this season, but he said that a plan is to keep Mazara in right field.
There aren't a lot options there.
4. Put all of what Beltre said together and how he said it, and the veteran appears to be in a very good place.
He's as determined as ever to win a World Series, as he should be with Father Time closing the gap, and he knows what he needs to do to stay healthy. That includes not showing up hurt.
It's early, but the score after one day is Beltre 1, Father Time 0.
A sensitive sort on the team might hear Beltre's comments about the need to add free agents and think that he must not think the current roster is no good. He doesn't believe that, only that it could be better.
It would be hard for anyone to say that Arrieta wouldn't be better than, say, Matt Moore. That's not a slap in Moore's face. There's strong evidence to back it up.
Plus, there's this adage:
"It doesn’t matter how much pitching you have, it’s never enough," Beltre said.
But if the Rangers don't add any players, don't take Beltre up on his offer to defer money to a later date, and decide their team is in the clubhouse, Beltre is ready to go compete.
"I want to have the best team, but I don’t have to pay those checks," Beltre said. "But there is no doubt what we have here is good enough to compete."
5. MLB unveiled its pace-of-play changes for 2018, and they should make games go quicker. That's a great thing, assuming everything is properly enforced.
But that can't be assumed because umpires haven't been enforcing rules designed to make games go faster. Batters are supposed to keep one foot in the batter's box at all times.
How often does that one get past the umps?
Only two measures will be implemented — fewer mound visits that don't involve a pitching change and less time between innings.
Teams get six non-change mound visits, and the definition of a visit varies from the traditional pitching coach going out to an infielder calling time and going to talk to the pitcher.
TV commercial breaks will be 2 minutes, 5 seconds in regular-season games that aren't part of a national broadcast, a reduction of 20 seconds. There's a 4 minutes right there.
There's a lack of faith here that this initiative will work, but, like Beltre and his future, we'll see how it goes.