SEATTLE -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre faces an increasingly uncertain future after going on the disabled list Tuesday for the second time this season with a strained left hamstring.
Beltre underwent an MRI on Tuesday, and again, the diagnosis was a Grade 1 strain, which is considered on the mild side. He is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
But this is the fourth time Beltre has been on the disabled list over the past two seasons, which is why the uncertainty about his future continues to grow.
"I don't see it that way," Beltre said. "Obviously, it's an injury I have been dealing with. Yes, it has been more prickly. Give myself enough time to get back and be healthy. I'm just worried about this day. I don't think about [the future]. It's something I have no power over. I'm on the disabled list. I can't do nothing about anything."
Beltre, 39, can be a free agent after this season, and right now, the Rangers are struggling to keep pace in the American League West. That's normally a combination that leads to July trade possibilities, but those chances will decrease if Beltre has trouble staying on the field.
Both Beltre and the Rangers will also have hard choices after the season. In his 21st season, his eighth with the Rangers, Beltre has made it clear he keeps playing because he still wants to win a World Series championship. The Rangers are not moving in that direction at the moment.
Instead, the Rangers may be looking at a rebuild next year. As much as Beltre is held in high regard by the Rangers, it may be difficult to commit another $18 million in salary when there are other pressing needs on the club.
"Unfortunately, it has been a number of leg and lower-body injuries," assistant general manager Josh Boyd said. "We all trust Adrian, [head trainer] Kevin Harmon and the group to put him in the best position to take the field. [Manager Jeff Banister] has a ton of trust in Adrian. I don't think there is questioning him, or his ability. Unfortunately, we have seen a number of these recurring injuries."
Beltre was sidelined from April 25-May 7 and missed 12 games because of a previous left hamstring strain.
Beltre is hitting .314 with one home run and 12 RBIs in 29 games, including going 5-for-15 with four RBIs in five games since being activated off the disabled list last Tuesday. He reinjured the leg Sunday in Houston.
"When he comes off the DL, he'll be Beltre like he always is," Boyd said.
The challenge will be to keep Beltre on the field, and the Rangers have put much stock in relying on him to say whether he is ready or not. There is little doubt that Beltre does everything he can to play and often does so when he is not physically 100 percent.
The question is if the Rangers need to curtail his playing time to keep him healthy.
"He'll play third base and DH for us until he can't," Banister said. "This is a guy who has played 20 years. He deserves the input he has on these type of situations. You're not talking about a 25- or 26-year-old. You are talking about a future Hall of Famer. He likes to be on the field, and he loves to play. At the end of the day, I am going to trust Adrian. The dynamics of the game ... these things happen, whether or not there is rest involved.
"We praised him not too long ago for defying the odds."
Beltre admitted that he may need to start getting more time at designated hitter.
"There is no doubt playing more games at DH is more realistic ... it might prolong my career," Beltre said. "When I'm ready to play, I'll do whatever they ask me to do."
Banister said rookie infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa will get the bulk of the playing time at third while Beltre is sidelined, and Hanser Alberto was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to be the utility infielder.
Joey Gallo will continue to play left field and first base. Gallo was primarily a third baseman in the Minor Leagues and often seen as the logical successor to Beltre at the position. But the Rangers moved him to first base in Spring Training, and again to left field after Ronald Guzman was called up from Round Rock.
"We have had some discussions along those lines of Joey playing third," Banister said. "We committed to Joey at first base in Spring Training, and some in the outfield, bouncing back and forth. We wouldn't put him in that situation without getting him some work. As we move forward, we'll look at all our options, but he's an everyday left fielder for us right now."