Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre careful with legs


SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers aren't taking any chances with the valuable legs of Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz.

Both players experienced disabled list time in 2011 because of those legs. Beltre missed part of spring training last year with a calf strain and then was out five weeks after straining his left hamstring in late July. Beltre, desperate to get back in the lineup, pushed the hamstring a little too hard in his rehab and that set him back a few more weeks.

Still, the 32-year-old third baseman put up impressive numbers despite playing 124 games. He hit .296 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs. And he had the monster Game 4 of the ALDS, hitting three home runs against the Tampa Bay Rays. Beltre also put on a defensive clinic throughout the season, making the Rangers' infield one of the best in the league.

"At some point in your career, those hamstrings are going to mess with you espcially the positon he plays and the way he plays," Washington said. "It just jumped on him last year. A freak thing happened when he first tried to come back and he missed more time. If we could have kept his insides a little more depressed, we could have had him back soner, but he pushed it and the hamstring gave out again.

"When the season starts, let it go and if something happens, something happens. But this is spring training. You're out here to get your work in and get through it. It's not only the games he plays, but the way he plays. He plays hard, runs everything out, goes first to third."

Cruz, 31, has been on the DL five times in the last two seasons, four of those with hamstring issues and the other a quadriceps muscle strain. He hit .263 with 29 homers and 87 RBIs in 124 games.

"He plays hard and we have to find a way to keep his legs strong," Washinton said. "I know he doesn't like it, but we may have to give him some time off and play it by what we see and react. Maybe that's some more DH time. He wants to play and I understand that, but we have to pay better attention to him this year."

In the case of both players, you wonder what they might have done if they played 150 or more games.

Both players are mindful of their legs this spring and strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez has them on a program designed to help build up their leg strength. Washington will make sure they don't push themselves too much the next few weeks but said with about two weeks left in spring, they need to start running harder to get fully ready for the season.