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Beltre still limited to designated hitter duties

Rangers third baseman taking ground balls, but not ready for defense
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

OAKLAND -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is taking ground balls again, but is not ready to play defense. Beltre has been dealing with a strained left hamstring and remains limited to designated hitter duties.

He was in that spot for the eighth straight game after sitting for two weeks because of the injury.

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OAKLAND -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is taking ground balls again, but is not ready to play defense. Beltre has been dealing with a strained left hamstring and remains limited to designated hitter duties.

He was in that spot for the eighth straight game after sitting for two weeks because of the injury.

Full Game Coverage

"I don't want to go out there and play defense and not make the plays I should be making," Beltre said. "I want to get back there, but I want to be well enough to make the plays that need to be made without blowing [the hamstring] up the first time I'm out there."

Joey Gallo normally plays third when Beltre is out. But he is anchored at first base with Mike Napoli sidelined with a stress reaction in his right leg.

Will Middlebrooks and Drew Robinson have been platooning at third base lately and their defense has been excellent. But with Carlos Gomez back in the lineup after missing 10 days with a sprained right ankle, the Rangers are reminded why they need Beltre back at third base.

It allows them to keep Delino DeShields in the lineup, but he was not there Friday night with right-hander Kendall Graveman pitching for the Athletics.

With Beltre at designated hitter, Rangers manager Jeff Banister is limited to three spots in the outfield for DeShields, Gomez, Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo. DeShields was the odd man out Friday.

"Delino has had some success (4-for-7) against Graveman, but he hasn't had a day off in a while," Banister said. "I wanted to have the two left-handers (Choo and Mazara) in there with Gomez coming back. He feels good today. If there was going to be a day off for DeShields, this was going to be the day. I'd like to have all four of them in the lineup."

The Rangers need Beltre back at third base for that to happen. That doesn't appear imminent, but Beltre has a way of surprising people and coming back sooner than expected. Beltre was at designated hitter two weeks after sustaining the injury, despite the original diagnosis being he would out for at least four weeks.

"I know he has been taking ground balls," Banister said. "He has been doing some work. I'm not saying he won't … that all depends on how he continues to progress. He has got to show himself more improvement. Quick movements [playing third] make it more challenging."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre