Remember how excited we all were when Adrian Beltran returned from a two week DL stint on May 8th? He justified the excitement with a three-hit performance in his return against the Detroit Tigers and began to continue an impressive hitting display he had started before his first DL stint in late April. Unfortunately, the 39 year-old lasted less than five more games before re-injuring his hamstring in a different spot.
The injury occurred on a defensive play in the seventh inning of Sunday’s loss to the Houston Astros. Beltre removed himself from the game and was placed on the 10 day disabled list on Tuesday.
Adrian Beltre’s Hall of Fame resume isn’t just about his impressive batting statistics. In fact, some even think of The Captain’s highlight worthy play at the hot corner before they remember any of his 3,080 hits.
Even though it won’t be easy, it’s probably time to admit that the man who has won five Gold Gloves — the last coming in 2016 — is better off spending just as much time as the designated hitter in the Rangers lineup as he is the third baseman these days.
This isn’t a fix-all solution. Beltre’s first trip to the DL in 2018 was the result of a hamstring injury he suffered running out of the box after a base hit. However, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to give his legs a little extra rest. The man is in his 21st season and has played in 2,843 career games since making his major league debut as a 19 year-old back in June 1998.
We all like to do a little sitting after a long day, right? A little extra sitting might do some good for a player who has stood… and stood… and stood as much as any baseball fielder would over a career as long as Beltre’s.
The veteran and team leader isn’t unaware of this increasingly obvious reality, either.
“I can be a part-time DH There is no doubt that if I want to play more games that maybe DH will be more realistic for me to consider. And I have,” Beltre admitted after leaving Sunday’s game. “I think if I play more DH I can prolong my career.”
It’s good to see someone who’s as fierce of a competitor as Beltre be self-aware of their mortality. He sounds similar to a certain seven foot tall star across town at a similar stage in his career.
Whenever Adrian Beltre is ready to return in two or three weeks, the Rangers should be able to accommodate this type of move for Beltre. Utility infielder Isaiah Kiner-Filefa will man third base as he is now. Joey Gallo, who has played well in the outfield, could either stay there or go back to being the primary first baseman. The current designated hitter for the Rangers is Shin-Soo Choo. It’d be interesting to see what they did to keep his bat in the lineup. With Gallo’s performance as the left fielder, maybe Choo could start learning first base at this stage in his career.
A potential Rangers lineup with this idea:
CF Delino DeShields
1B Shin-Soo Choo
RF Nomar Mazara
DH Adrian Beltre
LF Joey Gallo
SS Jurickson Profar
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
3B Isaiah Kiner-Falefa
Once Elvis Andrus comes back sometime in June, things could get a little bit more crowded, but one would think manager Jeff Banister would pencil in Jurickson Profar at third base anytime he wanted to have Beltre at DH. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
A positive thing to note is that Beltre’s bat doesn’t tend to cool off as a designated hitter. In fact, it gets even better. In 115 games as the starting DH, Beltre has an OPS of .878 compared to .819 when starting at third base.
Who knows how much longer the legendary number 29 will even sport a Rangers uniform. The ream’s performance has been disappointing and he has made it clear that he wants to finally get that elusive World Series ring before he calls it quits. Adrian Beltre could be gone before the calendar turns to August, but in the meantime the Ranger faithful at least want to see him playing night in and night out. The best way to help this might be mixing him in more and more as the designated hitter.
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