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2/19/2013 6:15 P.M. ET

Beltre, Berkman sit out first intrasquad game

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers held their first intrasquad game on Tuesday without third baseman Adrian Beltre and designated hitter Lance Berkman.

Beltre is dealing with a strained right calf muscle and also got hit in the lip by a ground ball during Tuesday morning's workout. The injury wasn't serious, but it did draw blood.

Berkman is coming back from surgery on his right knee, and the Rangers are taking it slow with him. Berkman said he could be ready by Friday, when the Rangers open the Cactus League season against the Royals. But manager Ron Washington said he's not inclined to rush either player into the lineup at this point of the spring.

"It's good ... it's coming along," Berkman said. "It's not where it's going to be a month from now, but it's making progress. I'm pretty pleased with how it feels."

The Rangers play 38 exhibition games before the start of the regular season. That's the most ever scheduled in a normal Spring Training.

"They are slow pacing," Washington said. "This is not that important."

Darvish pitches one inning in spring debut

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish made his spring debut by pitching one inning in an intrasquad game on Tuesday. He allowed one run, threw 24 pitches and blamed everything on shortstop Elvis Andrus.

"Overall, I feel fine and relaxed," Darvish said. "But because of that no-name shortstop that committed that error on the routine ground ball, I don't even know his name, because of his error, I had to throw a lot of pitches."

Darvish started the game by walking Jurickson Profar, who then stole second. Craig Gentry followed with the ground ball that got past Andrus as he tried to make a routine play.

"It was a base hit," Andrus said with a smile. "Fast runner, Gentry."

Manager Ron Washington overruled him.

"Error," Washington said. "Elvis makes that play. He just took it for granted."

Profar ended up on third and scored on Geovany Soto's sacrifice fly. Darvish retired the next two hitters. He was also kidding about Andrus.

"He told me he was going to tell you guys that," Andrus said. "If I can leave all my errors in Spring Training, I will."

Added Ian Kinsler: "If we're worrying about that error and our shortstop messing up that ball in the first game, we're worrying about too much."

Darvish's first outing in an intrasquad game last year was broadcast back to Japan. This one is not getting the same royal treatment.

"I'm disappointed," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I'm big in Japan. My sponsorships must have gone down."

Kinsler will remain in leadoff spot for Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers opened their intrasquad game with Ian Kinsler in the leadoff spot and Elvis Andrus batting second. That's the way they started the spring, and manager Ron Washington said that's how they'll start during the regular season.

Kinsler has been the Rangers' leadoff hitter for the past two years, but he has the power to hit in the middle of the order. During his career, he has averaged 25 home runs every 162 games, and that might be appealing for a team that lost Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli in the offseason. But Washington prefers Kinsler at the top of the order.

"He's not a prototypical leadoff hitter, but he can get us a run with one swing of the bat," Washington said. "It's a position he's comfortable at, and I expect him to get back to being the spark plug he was before."

Andrus batted leadoff in 2010 but dropped to the No. 2 spot in each of the last two years. The other alternative would be to go with the center fielder in the leadoff spot -- either Julio Borbon, Leonys Martin or Craig Gentry.

"They're not ready for that," Washington said. "Borbon might be. He has played in the big leagues and led off for me before. Martin ... I want him to break in slowly. Gentry ... I'd much rather have Kinsler and Elvis at the top, and he can be a second leadoff hitter at the bottom."

Wash impressed by Perez's instrasquad outing

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Martin Perez was the first pitcher that manager Ron Washington mentioned after Tuesday's intrasquad game. Perez allowed a hit and notched a strikeout in a scoreless inning.

"Perez did great," Washington said. "He kept the ball down, threw some changeups, locked up a right-handed hitter on a backdoor breaking ball, threw a breaking ball on a 2-0 count, worked fast and kept his rhythm."

Perez finished last season as the Rangers' fifth starter, but he has to win the job in Spring Training. His primary competition is going to come from left-hander Robbie Ross and right-handers Randy Wells and Kyle McClellan. Wells and McClellan have thrown the ball well early in camp, and Perez is going to have to fight for the job.

"He's got to win it," Washington said. "He's certainly got a chance to hold on to the job, but he has to hold on to it. We're not going to hold it for him. We're not babysitting him."

Worth noting

• Pitcher Wilmer Font, who has a chance to win a job in the bullpen, is dealing with mild inflammation in his right shoulder and is being limited to flat-ground work.

• Washington said pitcher Alexi Ogando did a nice job in the intrasquad game of using his changeup and throwing inside on right-handed hitters.

• Nelson Cruz hit a home run in his first at-bat of the spring, belting a 3-1 fastball from Jacob Brigham over the center-field wall. Said Cruz: "You want to make sure your swing is ready, and I guess it was today."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.