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Beltre could miss Game 2 with back strain

Rangers 3B exits Game 1 early after suffering injury on slide

TORONTO -- The Rangers could be without third baseman Adrian Beltre for Game 2 of the best-of-five American League Division Series and possibly longer after he left Game 1 with a strained lower back on Thursday.

Beltre had an anti-inflammatory injection during the game, a 5-3 Rangers win over the Blue Jays, and is listed as day to day. The Rangers are flying infielders Ed Lucas and Joey Gallo to Toronto just in case they need to replace him on the roster. If Beltre is unable to play today (12:30 p.m. ET/11:30 CT, MLB Network/Sportsnet), but the Rangers do not make a roster move, Hanser Alberto will likely start at third base. Alberto replaced Beltre on Thursday.

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"Adrian's got a lower back strain," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Got the MRI back, Dr. [Keith] Meister reviewed it with Adrian, and nothing jumps out. Nothing major. No major structural issues showed up on the MRI. He's still pretty sore. He actually got an injection earlier in the back so we'll give that a little time to work. And at this point he's day to day."

The Rangers could replace Beltre on the roster. But, according to postseason roster rules, that would mean he would have to sit out the American League Championship Series as well.

"That would be the last option," Daniels said. "The news would have to be worse than it is right now for us to consider that. We'll wait and see. Hopefully he'll get treatment this evening at the hotel, get some sleep, get back in tomorrow and we haven't ruled him out of tomorrow's game at this point. We'll take it day to day. We've got the off-day Saturday, so we'll take it day to day and see where we go."

Beltre injured his back in the first inning, sliding into second base while trying to break up a double play. He played two innings on defense while getting treatment in the dugout, then came to bat in the third with two outs and Delino DeShields on second.

Video: [email protected] Gm1: Beltre, Donaldson slide hard into second

Beltre lined a single to center to score DeShields but could barely make it to first base. Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar threw home trying to get DeShields, otherwise he might have been able to throw out Beltre at first base.

"What I do know about Adrian Beltre is his last at-bat, what he did in his last at-bat is phenomenal," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We talked about it all year long, just how tough this man is and what he's capable of doing."

Video: [email protected] Gm1: DeShields flies home at 21 mph

Banister and trainer Kevin Harmon checked on Beltre at first base and he asked to stay in the game. But when Prince Fielder grounded out to end the inning, Beltre could hardly run to second.

Again Banister and Harmon checked on him and this time convinced him to come out of the game. It was an emotional moment for Beltre.

"That says a lot about him, what kind of leader and man he is," outfielder Josh Hamilton said.

Rookie infielder Alberto, who played just seven games at third base this season, had five ground balls hit at him. He bobbled one slightly in the fourth inning and that may have kept the Rangers from turning a double play. Otherwise he was fine defensively and went 0-for-2 at the plate.

Video: [email protected] Gm1: Alberto replaces Beltre at third in 3rd

"It was great to play but I'm sad for Beltre," Alberto said. "But I'm here to help and we got a win so you have to be happy, especially at this moment. Hopefully Beltre is ready tomorrow but if not, I will continue to do the little things to help the team win."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.
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