The standings continue to show that the Texas Rangers are contenders for the American League playoffs, but if they are to make a run to the postseason for a third straight year, they will have to do so without their best player.
Adrian Beltre said on Friday that he will miss four weeks with a strained left hamstring and isn’t sure if he will play again this season. An MRI showed a Grade 2 strain, which typically requires a recovery window of four to six weeks.
General manager Jon Daniels said that the Rangers are preparing as if Beltre won’t play again this season.
Beltre was injured Thursday in the seventh inning while attempting to field a grounder to third base at Tropicana Field. He said that the turf there could have led to the injury or made him more susceptible to an injury.
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No matter how it happened, that it happened has made the Rangers’ task far more difficult.
“I’m disappointed,” Beltre said. “Obviously, I feel like I let the team down. We’re playing better and playing meaningful games and getting close in the wild card, and this happens. I would love to play in the postseason, but I can’t expect that. I’m going to try my best to find a way how to make it better soon.
“I’ll be supporting my teammates, and they know they don’t need me to win. I know that I won’t be out there helping them achieve what we want to do, but we have enough time to get it done.”
Joey Gallo started at third base in Friday’s 10-9 victory in the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, just as he did for most of the first two months of the season while Beltre was out with a strained left calf. Beltre missed the first 51 games.
Gallo was there for Opening Day, and could be there for the season finale. Will Middlebrooks, a September call-up from Triple A Round Rock, and Drew Robinson could spell Gallo if he needs a day off, but the plan is for him to play third base every day.
“We’ve got a few guys that play the position, and I’m sure more guys are coming,” Gallo said. “I don’t know how that all plays into it, but as of right now I’m just going to play where they put me. I’m going to work at third, because when AB’s out, that’s where I go.”
Beltre and manager Jeff Banister said that the load to replace Beltre doesn’t solely fall on Gallo. The Rangers have to do something they have struggled to do throughout the season, with or without their captain, and that’s play consistently.
“We’re capable of playing really good baseball,” Banister said. “We’d much rather do it with him in the lineup. We don’t get to do that right now. A player goes down, a player steps up, and everybody else needs to pull their weight a little bit better. We have zero time to lick our wounds and think about it. At all. Period.”
Banister said that the Rangers will have to win with quality pitching, which they had more often than not in August. The Rangers have a 3.85 ERA over the past 26 games, and the rotation has a 3.85 ERA over the past 21 games.
Cole Hamels, who started Friday, went 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA in August, with the only blemish coming last weekend at Oakland. Martin Perez tied for the league lead in wins for the month, and Andrew Cashner’s 2.76 August ERA was eighth in the AL.
The Rangers added to the rotation late Thursday with the addition of Miguel Gonzalez in a trade with the Chicago White Sox. He will report to the Rangers on Saturday and is likely to make his team debut next week at Atlanta.
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“We’re going to have to do it off the mound,” Banister said. “We’ve got to do something where we coordinate all phases of the game and really play well in all phases of the game.”
Beltre will be on the bench, playing the part of cheerleader and observant veteran. The bench is where he opened and could finish one of the most difficult seasons of his 20-year career.
It will be the first time since his rookie season in 1998 that he hasn’t played 100 games.
“I have never been out so long,” Beltre said. “It’s not been fun for me. I love being out there. Sometimes it’s out of your control.
“I’ve got to look forward and find a way to get better soon. They say it’s going to be four weeks, but I’m a quick healer. So, we’ll see what happens.”
The Texas Rangers activated Jake Diekman from the 60-day disabled list Friday, and he couldn't wait to make his 2017 debut after three operations for ulcerative colitis (video by Jeff Wilson).
Rangers vs. Angels
6:15 p.m. Saturday, FS1