Adrian Beltre hates being out of the lineup more than just about anything, maybe more than anything, and that includes talking to the media.
He wants to help his team win and is disappointed every time an injury prevents him from making a contribution. So, the past week hasn’t been an enjoyable one for the four-time All-Star.
A strained left hamstring kept him out of the Texas Rangers’ lineup Wednesday for a seventh straight game, but he isn’t expecting there to be an eighth Thursday. Beltre will likely start for the first time since June 8 as the Rangers wrap up a four-game series against the Oakland A’s.
“It’s good enough to be out there,” Beltre said before Derek Holland faced Sonny Gray in a late game at Oakland Coliseum.
But to say Beltre hasn’t made a contribution isn’t accurate. Though his bat and glove hadn’t directly been a part of to the Rangers going 4-2 without him, something Beltre did Tuesday played a role in a 10-6 victory.
He was a tutor to Jurickson Profar.
Profar, who made his seventh straight start at third base Wednesday, approached Beltre before Tuesday’s game and asked the veteran for help with his timing at third base.
Profar is a career middle infielder, and he hadn’t played third base since 2013. His timing on grounders was off, as illustrated by an error Monday and another bobble in the series at Seattle that led to a throwing error.
He needed a solution, and Beltre, a four-time Gold Glove winner, provided it.
“He said a lot of things,” Profar said. “I told him I wasn’t feeling comfortable. I told him I’m locking up at third base because I had my timing off. At third base, balls come very quickly.
“That’s what he saw, too, and we talked and we practiced during BP. And I’m feeling very comfortable.”
Profar had his best game in the field a few hours later. He dived to his left to rob Danny Valencia of an RBI single in the first inning, a key play, and a few innings later robbed Valencia again by charging a chopper past the mound, bare-handing the ball and firing to first base.
“They were really good plays,” Beltre said. “Don’t give me any credit. He’s the one who caught the balls.”
Beltre gave Profar suggestions on how to fix his timing, but the key piece of advice was to expect that every ball will be hit to him.
Surely, Profar couldn’t have just picked up Beltre’s tips that quickly, right?
“Don’t ask me those questions,” Beltre said. “Ask him.”
Said Profar: “Yes. That helped me a lot. He told me to expect every ball. I wasn’t getting ready on time. Now I’m just getting ready and expecting every ball.”
That kind of aptitude isn’t found in every player. Manager Jeff Banister said that Profar, at only 23, has proven to be a quicker learner than most of his peers. Profar wants to be great, and he’s not afraid to ask, or to proud to ask, for help.
“To be able to do that, the interest has to be there,” Banister said. “There is a thirst for learning, a desire to be better than most.
“Not every player is vulnerable to be taught. Most every one of these guys has been the best of the best at some point, so, ‘Why do I need to be coached?’ But that’s not the case. There comes a time when self-evaluation is crucial, too, and I think he does that very well.”
But Profar’s time at third base might be up. Banister said that he is comfortable with Beltre’s health after watching him run Wednesday and after consulting the training staff. The only test remaining for Beltre to pass is to play.
Beltre said that there is still discomfort in the hamstring, which he injured last week while running to second base on a Prince Fielder single late in a game against Houston. The only issue he sees, though, is running.
Beltre has been taking batting practice, and he said that he shouldn’t be limited defensively. He expects that he will have to manage his injury for up to two weeks before it is 100 percent.
“He’s in a good place,” Banister said. “When he’s ready, we want him back in the lineup and on the field.”
Beltre, apparently, is a good teacher, too. He was working with a good pupil.
“It was beautiful to watch those two go back and forth,” Banister said.
Rangers at Athletics
2:35 p.m. Thursday, FSSW