Texas Rangers

After Beltre injury, it's youth gone wild in Rangers infield

The way Adrian Beltre left the field Tuesday night suggested he would miss several weeks with a hamstring injury. He might miss no more than three.
The way Adrian Beltre left the field Tuesday night suggested he would miss several weeks with a hamstring injury. He might miss no more than three. The Associated Press

Believe it or not, the Texas Rangers received good news Wednesday from the doctor's office.

Oh, Adrian Beltre still has a strained left hamstring and went on the 10-day disabled list.

The news wasn't that good.

But the third baseman was diagnosed with a mild strain and could miss only two to three weeks after being injured in the eighth inning Tuesday. Knowing how Beltre always seems to will himself through the pain and manage injuries, he might be back May 5.

"Short of it was just a cramp, this is the best news we could have gotten," manager Jeff Banister said.

The news is still bad overall, as the Rangers will be without their best player and leader after already being without their second-best players and leader. That's shortstop Elvis Andrus, who still has up to six weeks left before he returns from a broken right elbow.

Second baseman Rougned Odor (left hamstring) could return next week, but as of the series finale Wednesday against the Oakland A's, three of the four infielder in the Rangers' Opening Day lineup were out and the fourth was the left fielder.

Anyone who predicted that the Rangers this season would employ an infield of Ronald Guzman, Drew Robinson, Jurickson Profar and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, go buy lottery tickets immediately.

Everyone else, including the Rangers, will ride out the injuries with that group.

"You have to go out there and just play," Andrus said. "It's going to be a good experience for them to be out there by themselves. It's a great time for the young guys to step up. They're the future of the team. There's not a better time for them to go out there and figure it out."

Kiner-Falefa will be the primary third baseman while Beltre is out after serving as the second baseman in Odor's absence. Drew Robinson take over at second, though Kiner-Falefa could move back to second against left-handers as Renato Nunez gets third.

Banister said that Joey Gallo won't play third even though he was drafted as a third baseman and played there last season as Beltre dealt with calf and hamstring injuries. Gallo will continue to bounce between left and first base, where he opened the season.

Ryan Rua, who was called up to take Beltre's roster spot, could get time at first base or in left field against lefties. He and Profar have the most experience among the replacements, but they're all about to get more time than was expected.

"There's guys in that clubhouse right now that have an opportunity, a real opportunity, one that they probably would not of had in April 2018 if it were not for injuries," Banister said. "We talked about in spring training that it's only going to take everybody.

"We focused in on paying attention to everybody, and we're at that point right now were sometimes you've just got to embrace the suck."

Andrus said that he likes how the youngsters are playing and approaching the game. They are playing aggressively, an indication that they aren't intimidated by the major leagues and are playing the same way they would if they were still in Triple A.

They have also left a favorable impression on left-hander Cole Hamels, who has started twice since Andrus and Odor went down. The goal is for the young players to play regularly enough to feel completely at ease, to mesh with the veterans, and to start winning games.

"You really have to go out there play," Hamels said. "I think a lot of it is guys are getting a lot of playing and some opportunities, and I think now is the time for them to feel comfortable enough to step up. They know their place. It's up to them to really show what they're all about. We have the confidence that they can do it."

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