Texas Rangers

Beltre could be off DL by Thursday. Here's how Rangers will get creative to keep him healthy

Injuries have Rangers’ Beltre thinking more DH games

The end isn’t near for Adrian Beltre, despite a series of injuries the past two seasons. He says more games at designated hitter could prolong his MLB career.
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The end isn’t near for Adrian Beltre, despite a series of injuries the past two seasons. He says more games at designated hitter could prolong his MLB career.

Adrian Beltre must have been feeling pretty good late Tuesday afternoon, because he still had enough energy after a busy pregame on the field to toy with the Texas Rangers beat writers.

Manager Jeff Banister had just spilled the goods on Beltre, that his early work on the field indicated that he would be reinstated from the 10-day disabled list no later than Friday.

Banister ruled out Tuesday and Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners, saying the Rangers need to see how well Beltre's strained left hamstring recovers from taking batting practice, fielding ground balls and running the bases, and then he needs to do it again.

But, barring a setback, the third baseman will return at some point before the Rangers return home from this seven-game road trip. The Rangers will return to their Keep Adrian Healthy Plan.

"I felt alright," Beltre finally, begrudgingly, shouted from 50 feet away. "It was progress."

Beltre missed the chance to face friend and rival Felix Hernandez, who started Tuesday for the Mariners in a late game. The Rangers countered with Austin Bibens-Dirkx, a native of the Pacific Northwest who was pitching at Safeco Field for the first time in his career.

Whenever Beltre returns, the Rangers' lineup as currently constructed will undergo a face-lift.

Beltre won't be playing third base every day, Banister said. Beltre will serve as the designated hitter multiple game a week, and almost certainly on days games following night games.

The domino effect of more Beltre DH games would likely put right fielder Nomar Mazara in left field more and primary DH Shin-Soo Choo in right more. Choo, though, has played left field and was shagging balls there Tuesday during Rangers batting practice.

Whenever Mazara or Choo is in left field, Joey Gallo would be at first base. Gallo will not play third base, Banister suggested.

Rookie infielders Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronald Guzman, who have become key pieces in the Rangers' patched-together lineup, would still see time in the lineup, just not as much of it.

"The defense will definitely have a different look from time to time," Banister said. "We do have experience at moving the two right fielders.

"Going forward, we talked about the workload, the DH days, the days off, when they're appropriate. The last thing we want is a situation where he's on the field and this type of thing happens again. Knowing that, athletes do get hurt. They do. Things happen. Players play hard. There's that chance. We'd like to do as much as we can to prevent that from happening."

The purpose of more DH days for Beltre is the same as the lightened spring workload — to help him avoid the DL. The spring changes worked for about three weeks before Beltre hit the DL for the first time this season with a strained left hammy April 25.

The future Hall of Famer returned May 8 but injured the same muscle five days later.

Banister said that the Rangers want to be certain that Beltre is healthy before they take him off the DL.

"We don't want to do this again," Banister said. "All of us want Adrian on the field, and we want Adrian on the field as much as we can get him out there. The concern is being in a situation that this gets repeated. We want to make sure that he feels good, that he feels strong, and that he's able to recover."

Apparently, that day will arrive for Beltre on this road trip.

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