With Beltre close to returning, the Texas Rangers are trending up

Adrian Beltre has not played for the Texas Rangers yet this season. However, he’s moving closer toward a return at just the right time.

Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list with a strained right calf since the start of the 2017 regular season. However, it looks like the team will not have to wait much longer to get its 38-year-old All-Star back on the field.

According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers are, “becoming cautiously optimistic they could get third baseman Adrian Beltre back before the end of May.” Sullivan also reported that the veteran slugger “took batting practice and fielded ground balls on Saturday.”

This would be a much welcomed development for a player who had a setback in his rehab earlier in the spring. The Rangers have been deploying former top prospect Joey Gallo at third base, and while the 23-year-old has launched many balls over the fence this season, he’s still failing to hit for pretty much anything else. His batting average currently sits at .195.

If both are healthy, there really isn’t much of a comparison between the two third basemen because of Beltre’s impeccable track record, which includes his above average 2016 campaign. Beltre is coming off a season where he hit in the .300s, slugged for over .500 and cracked the 30 home run mark. So even with Beltre now playing in his late 30s, there is little reason to think that his play will greatly diminish if he’s fully recovered.

His upcoming return comes at a time when the Rangers are playing their best baseball of the young season. After starting 2017 with a poor 13-20 record, the club has gone on a tear, winning six games in a row. So while the Houston Astros are the league’s best team at this point, the Rangers are trending in the right direction after they probably expected to contend coming into the season.

When Beltre gets back into the fold, the Rangers will have one of the more dangerous offenses in the game. They have plenty of offensive talent in Jonathan Lucory, Mike Napoli, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara among others, and these hitters haven’t even come close to hitting as well as we know they can.

However, it looks like the Rangers may have to deal with a few more injuries as they await Beltre’s return. According to Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram, both Carlos Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo are suffering from right hamstring and back injuries, respectively. If both of these turn out to be minor setbacks, then the Rangers are back in business. If not, then Beltre may be able to offset some of these losses soon enough.

Texas’ starting staff has been carrying the team this season. Not only have Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels performed well, but perceived lower-end rotation types in A.J. Griffin and Martin Perez have held their own. Add in a couple of really good performances from offseason addition Andrew Cashner and the Rangers are thriving on the mound.

I’m not 100 percent convinced that the likes of Griffin and Perez can keep up this pace, but that may not be that big of a deal as Tyson Ross continues to inch closer and closer to joining the starting rotation. This past weekend, the former Padre logged an extended spring training start in which he threw 45 pitches.

With all of these developments, it seems that after some rough play to open the season, the Rangers have the makings of getting back to being a postseason contender, especially with Beltre entering the lineup. His addition would dramatically improve any offense and his presence could help protect the entire lineup.

So even with all the injuries and struggles of many critical offensive pieces, Texas sits just a game below .500 with arguably its best hitter set to return by the end of the month. I would say that the Rangers should be confident about where they are at the moment.

How much of an impact do you think Beltre’s return will have on the Rangers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.