Adrian Beltre to make spring debut

Updated: March 14, 2011, 3:44 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Third baseman Adrian Beltre, the Texas Rangers' prized offseason acquisition, is ready to make his season debut in the Cactus League.

Beltre, who has been sidelined by a Grade I calf strain suffered shortly before spring training started, is scheduled to play in Monday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Manager Ron Washington said he hopes to get Beltre two or three at-bats, adding that he could play as much as five innings. Beltre will play third base in the game, although Washington said he's at most risk of re-injury when playing defense.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine said the Rangers don't believe they are putting Beltre in any jeopardy.

"I need to get in some games, see some breaking balls, get my timing and see the strike zone," Beltre said Saturday. "Come April 1, you turn on the switch and that's it."

Beltre, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal with a vesting option for a sixth year at $16 million this offseason, has been doing defensive drills and taking batting practice. The final step in his rehabilitation process was running the bases, which he started doing this week.

"He's been moving around well defensively," Washington said. "We'll see what his timing is like when he's hitting live. I'm not looking for anything but him getting off the field healthy."

The Rangers moved Michael Young into a designated hitter/super utility role after signing the 31-year-old Beltre, a superior defensive player who hit .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBIs for the Boston Red Sox last season.

Young, who asked to be traded during the offseason after feeling "misled and manipulated" by general manager Jon Daniels, is in the midst of a spectacular spring, hitting .435 with six RBIs in 10 games. Washington said Young will get more time at first base, the only infield position he has never played, with Beltre on the field.

"He looks very comfortable at first," Washington said. "We're going to get him another day in there in the next day or so, but he looks very comfortable over there. Michael's a pro. It doesn't take him very long to acclimate. I haven't seen a problem with [any] of the positions he's been playing."

Tim MacMahon is a reporter and columnist for ESPNDallas.com.

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