It’s talked about all the time, especially in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse.
Teammates are constantly heaping praise on Adrian Beltre, not for just the player he is, but for the leadership he brings to the club.
His leadership, for both experienced veterans and fresh-faced rookies, at times can feel like a nebulous abstract concept.
And then there are moments like in the sixth inning Sunday when his work ethic and hustle collided on a routine play for all to see.
Leading off the sixth inning, Beltre ran hard out of the box on what typically would be a 6-3 groundout in the box score.
Instead, Beltre’s hustle forced shortstop Xander Bogaerts to rush his throw, which pulled first baseman Hanley Ramirez off the bag long enough for Beltre to beat it by half a step.
The next batter, Prince Fielder, roped a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole that increased the lead to 5-1 as the Rangers beat the Red Sox 6-2 at Globe Life Park to finish a six-game homestand.
Texas starts a 10-game road trip to finish the first half with the first of four in New York against the Yankees on Monday evening.
“When your leader does things right that’s where the identity of your ballclub comes from,” Rangers coach Tony Beasley said. “Adrian did not assume an out, he ran hard through the base. If he wasn’t running hard, that doesn’t happen and Prince doesn’t hit a two-run homer. It’s all crucial. He understands that and it sets up something bigger to happen. That’s what we did today.”
It’s another example of why his teammates so respect Beltre, 37, who was 2 for 4 with two RBIs. He moved past Carlos Delgado into 52nd place with 1,513 career RBIs. He needs six more to pass Jeff Kent for 51st.
“I think if he was 50 and playing he’d still give his best shot to beat it out,” said Fielder, who extended his season-best hit streak to eight games. “That’s just the way he is. You can’t teach that. It’s the reason why he’s our leader and a future Hall of Fame player.”
The Rangers jumped on Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz with three runs in the first. The first six batters reached, including run-scoring singles by Nomar Mazara, Beltre and Rougned Odor.
Beltre’s run-scoring single in the seventh gave Texas a 6-1 lead. That was plenty for left-hander Martin Perez, who won his sixth straight start after holding the Red Sox to a run on six hits and two walks.
“If there’s a chance I can make it hard on the infielder, I try to run to make the play close and if he screws up I can get there safe,” said Beltre, who has a five-game hit streak. “I know because I’m an infielder. For me, when a guy who runs slow and doesn’t hustle I know that I have more time, time to grip the ball better and make a better throw. If he’s fast you don’t have time to do that.”
Beltre’s leadership extends onto the field, of course, too. He leads American League third basemen with a .990 fielding percentage and is second in the majors with just two errors. The Rangers didn’t make an error during the 4-2 homestand and have made just two errors in their past 10 games.
“I give the credit to management and ownership for searching out character guys and making sure that character guys stay,” said Ian Desmond, who singled in the first to extend his hit streak to eight games. “I think Adrian is a perfect example of that. He goes out there and just grinds. We all feed off it.”
Rangers at Yankees
6:05 p.m. Monday, FSSW