Third baseman Adrian Beltre arrived at the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse Sunday morning, three days before Tuesday’s required report date.
He greeted teammates, coaches and gave manager Jeff Banister a big hug when the two met on a practice field for his first workout of the spring.
The only Rangers player yet to arrive is Prince Fielder.
Beltre, who turns 37 on April 7, says he feels great. His thumb injury, which required surgery after the season, is healed. The back spasms that arose during the postseason aren’t an issue. He has no limitations as he begins his 21st spring training.
I heard there are talks. You never know how that goes. I think there’s interest on both sides to get it done, but that’s not my area.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre
“I feel good. Mentally strong, physically good and excited to start a new season and try to accomplish what we all want,” he said.
Both the Rangers and Beltre have expressed a desire to add another year to his contract, which ends in October. It’s a move Beltre would prefer to see sooner rather than later.
“I don’t think anybody wants to go into a season [without one] if you can resolve it before, but I’ve been there before, I’ve done it,” he said. “I have no problem doing it, but it’s nice to know that you have a chance to get it done before the season starts and not have that in the back of your mind thinking you might not be here next year.”
Beltre doesn’t know how much longer he wants to play. He’s starting his 19th major league season. He’d be open to an incentive-laden deal that rewards him for games played and production, but he wants to remain an everyday player.
“I believe I can play pretty much most of the year, but once they get something done and there’s limitations, let me know and I will decide,” he said.
His age isn’t important, he said, but the Rangers have top prospect Joey Gallo waiting in the wings. And Beltre can’t play forever.
“[Age] is a factor, obviously, but it’s a little different with Adrian than it is with others. I still think he’s one of the best third baseman in the game,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s a unique bird.”
Daniels said the decision on Beltre’s extension is not mutually exclusive with regard to Gallo or any other rising infield prospect, including Hanser Alberto, who filled in for Beltre in the postseason.
“We have options,” Daniels said. “But the point is we like the guy we have right now and I’m glad we have him under contract this year, and if there’s something to be worked out beyond this year I’d like to.”
Beltre, with all his experience in the game, understands the dynamics of the situation.
“I’m not kidding anybody that I’m 21, 22,” he said. “Age is just a number. Realistically, I’m not going to be able to jump and do the things Elvis [Andrus] and [Rougned] Odor can do, but physically I don’t think I’ll have any limitations.”
Guthrie plunges in
Right-handed veteran Jeremy Guthrie threw for the Rangers on Sunday morning shortly after passing a physical and signing a minor league deal. Guthrie, 36, has been in the major leagues since 2004, the past four with the Royals.
Guthrie chose to sign with Texas (over re-signing with Kansas City) because the Rangers offered a chance to earn a starting spot.
[We made it clear to him] if he didn’t win [a starting] job he could also compete for a multi-inning role in the bullpen. We’re going to stretch him out and prepare him as a starter.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels
“I know there are a lot of arms here and I’m just happy to be in the mix and we’ll see what I can do,” said Guthrie, who went 8-8 with a 5.95 ERA in 2015. “I need to do a better job of keeping [the ball] down. That’s what I struggled with last year. If I can do that and attack the hitter I’ve got a chance to take it deep into a game.
“Last year, I didn’t have quality location and paid the price in a few games, much worse than in others.”
Banister said he hopes the addition of Guthrie helps spur some intensity among the candidates for a fifth starter until Yu Darvish returns in May or June. Daniels said there are no other discussions or offers with other free-agent pitchers pending.
“It’s an opportunity to push that fifth starter spot, the competition will be a little tougher,” Daniels said. “It raises the intensity, and the guys understand that. You get to see the real guy, the real pitcher because they all know what’s at stake.”
Lefty Roth signs
The Rangers also signed left-hander Michael Roth to a minor league deal. He’ll work out in minor league camp.
Roth made 22 appearances (one start) in 2013 and ’14 for the Angels and compiled a 7.79 ERA. He went 9-9 with a 4.85 ERA for the Indians’ Triple A Columbus in 2015.