SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers haven't made any final decisions yet, but manager Ron Washington said Saturday that Monday "might be it" in terms of getting third baseman Adrian Beltre in his first Cactus League game of the spring. Interestingly, the Rangers play the Dodgers, one of Beltre's former teams, that day.
Beltre, 31, suffered a Grade I calf strain before camp began and has been slowly working back into game shape. He ran the bases for a fourth straight day on Saturday and Washington said he was running 4.2 seconds to first base and looking good in some difficult drills with strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez.
Beltre said he feels good and that if he gets a few weeks worth of games is "more than enough" to get ready for the 2011 season.
"I need to get in some games, see some breaking balls, get my timing and see the strike zone," Beltre said. "Come April 1, you turn on the switch and that's it."
Beltre said the final step in returning was running full speed and being able to start and stop, what he called "quick reactions" on the bases. He did that Friday and Saturday and said he hopes to play Monday. He's been swinging a bat and taking grounders for a while now too. The club will see how he feels Sunday before making a final decision as to when he plays.
Beltre signed a five-year, $80 million deal with a vesting option for a sixth year at $16 million this offseason to become the starting third baseman. The signing caused the club to move Michael Young to designated hitter and super-utility infielder. Beltre hit .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBIs for the Red Sox in 154 games in 2010. He had 49 doubles, which led the American League.