Beltre has 2 hits in spring training debut

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Held out of the Texas Rangers’ first 10 spring training games, Adrian Beltre got hits in his first two at-bats of spring training.

“Last year I didn’t get a hit in spring training,” Beltre said Monday. “How did that work?”

Beltre hit .312 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in 94 games last year after going 0 for 12 with four walks during the exhibition season. He opened last season on the disabled list with a right calf injury, injured an ankle in July and went on the disabled again after pulling his left hamstring on Aug. 31.

“What happened last year with my injuries was not fun, so they wanted to make sure to take my time, take it slow, make sure my legs are ready to go,” said Beltre, who turns 39 on April 7. “When the season starts, it’s different. This is spring training. It’s get your mind ready and get your body ready maybe to play 180 games all the way through the postseason. I’ve been doing this for quite a bit, so I don’t need that much repetition to get ready for the season.”

Beltre hit .161 (15 for 93) in his previous three spring trainings. He singled in the first inning against San Francisco’s Ty Blach on Monday, doubled leading off the fourth and was removed for a pinch runner.

“All I need is 10 days,” Beltre said. “It doesn’t matter how good or how bad you feel in spring training. When the season starts, it’s completely different. For me it’s like a switch.”

After sinking to a 78-84 record last season, 23 games behind AL West and World Series champion Houston, the Rangers hope a healthy Beltre will help spark a turnaround.

“We’re being a little more cognizant of him getting ready, with how things have gone in the past,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He’s done a great job of really understanding his body and where he’s at and how he needs to get ready. We don’t need for him to be ready to compete in early spring training games. We need Adrian to be ready for opening day and the long haul.”

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