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Beltre close to committing to Classic

Third baseman optimistic after making Cactus League debut Friday
Special to MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Adrian Beltre is increasingly optimistic about his chances of playing in the World Baseball Classic as well as his progress toward being ready for Opening Day for the Rangers after he made his Spring Training game debut Friday at third base against the Mariners.

Since the beginning of camp, when he reported with a strained calf suffered just days before in home workouts, Beltre has been agonizing over whether he'd be ready to play for his native Dominican Republic in the Classic beginning next week.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Adrian Beltre is increasingly optimistic about his chances of playing in the World Baseball Classic as well as his progress toward being ready for Opening Day for the Rangers after he made his Spring Training game debut Friday at third base against the Mariners.

Since the beginning of camp, when he reported with a strained calf suffered just days before in home workouts, Beltre has been agonizing over whether he'd be ready to play for his native Dominican Republic in the Classic beginning next week.

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He was evaluated by team physician Dr. Keith Meister on Friday morning and given the go-ahead to start later that day.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"He told me that the MRI looks better. It's about 85 percent healed, and he didn't expect it to be healed right by now because it takes a long time to heal completely with no sign of anything on the MRI," Beltre said. "But according to what he said, he said the way I've been doing, running with no setback and no discomfort, that it's all on me [to decide]. I felt OK. We'll see how I wake up tomorrow, but so far, so good, so we'll see."

At the plate, Beltre flied out to right field and grounded out to the pitcher in his two at-bats Friday. At third, he fielded two grounders cleanly and threw both runners out.

"I just needed to be out there to see how I was going to feel," Beltre said. "I could not make any decision without being on the field and knowing exactly how I feel. I don't have to feel 100 percent, I just want to know where I'm at so I can make a good decision and be clear about what I want to do."

Sprinting out of the batter's box is a bigger challenge right now than moving laterally on defense, Beltre said.

"I was hoping to hit a ground ball so I could get out of the box, not go full gear but just kind of test it getting out of the box," he said. "Everything else was fine, defense was fine."

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Beltre said his mind is not totally, officially made up about going to the Classic, but Friday helped assuage some of his concerns. He wants more playing time in Arizona before heading to Miami, where the Dominican team will play its first game on Thursday. If Beltre doesn't play in the first round, his team must either play with a short roster to save his spot, or he won't be able to join for a potential second round.

"There's no doubt I need to play maybe one or two more games before I leave, if I'm going to go, and know exactly where I'm at," Beltre said.

The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Worth noting

• Saturday will be the last chance for some of the Rangers' American World Baseball Classic representatives to see Spring Training game action until after the United States' participation in the tournament ends. Right-hander Sam Dyson and catcher Jonathan Lucroy are both slated to leave on Sunday.

• Other WBC participants for Texas include infielder Jurickson Profar (Netherlands), who left for Korea on Tuesday; catcher Robinson Chirinos (Venezuela), left-handed reliever Alex Claudio (Puerto Rico), second baseman Rougned Odor (Venezuela) and left-handed starter Martin Perez (Venezuela).

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre