02/23/2013 1:25 PM ET
Berkman, Beltre not worried about early ailments
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lance Berkman wants a full Spring Training. Adrian Beltre only needs 10-14 games to get ready.
The one thing they both agree on is Spring Training is too long, but the Cactus League has started without them anyway. Both Berkman and Beltre, the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the Rangers lineup, respectively, each remain sidelined with a strained right calf muscle.
Berkman, who seems to be closer to playing than Beltre, ran the bases on Saturday -- a big step toward being cleared to play in games.
"I'm ready right now, but you have to go through a certain process before they let you play," Berkman said.
Berkman came into camp still in the process of going through rehabilitation on his right knee. Berkman twice had surgery on the knee to repair torn cartilage last season. The first operation took place on May 26, and the second was done on Sept. 11. Combined with a strained left calf muscle, Berkman played in just 32 games the entire season for the Cardinals.
"I need a regular Spring Training after not playing much last year," Berkman said. "My best year was '06, and I only played the last few weeks [of the spring] because I was rehabbing from knee surgery. I came out in April as hot as a pistol and had the best year of my career. But I don't know if the way to do it this time is [to] miss all but the last two weeks of Spring Training."
Berkman still has plenty of time. Spring Training is longer this year because of the World Baseball Classic, and the Rangers are scheduled to play 38 exhibition games, the most over a normal spring in club history. Berkman usually plays in 18-20 games per spring.
"I don't want to carry this into the zone of lost time," said Berkman. "Everybody knows Spring Training is a week too long or two weeks too long. Until we get into the first week or two weeks of March, it's not lost time."
This is the second time in three years that Beltre has dealt with a strained calf muscle in Spring Training. This time it disrupted his plans to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Beltre played in just 10 games in 2011 Spring Training because of a calf injury. However, he still hit .269 with a career-best seven home runs and 22 RBIs in the month of April that year.
"I don't need a lot of games," Beltre said. "It depends on how my swing feels. It doesn't matter how many games you play in Spring Training. If you're physically ready, you shouldn't need to turn a switch when Opening Day comes along."
Beltre is putting in his time in the batting cages but is still limited in his running.
"They want me to take it slow," Beltre said. "I think we're looking at maybe the end of next week to make sure everything is OK. They want me to progress little by little and go day by day and see how I'm progressing; not trying to push anything yet. There is no reason for it now. If everything goes fine, by the end of next week I should be playing."
Rangers manager Ron Washington has plenty to think about in Spring Training, but right now he is not concerned with the two big bats in the middle of his order.
"Their veterans," Washington said. "They know what they need. We certainly don't want to over-play them down here. They will get what they need to be ready."
• Closer Joe Nathan said the Rangers have tentatively targeted March 3 as possibly his first appearance in a Cactus League game. He is healthy but is taking it slowly because of the longer Spring Training this year.
• Pitcher Kyle McClellan, who has been dealing with soreness in the back of his right shoulder, is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Sunday. He has been pulled back in his throwing program while the Rangers wait for the soreness to subside.
• Pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who allowed a run in one inning in his outing on Friday against the Royals, has been dealing with a strained left hamstring and will get a couple days off to let that problem subside.
• Outfielder Engel Beltre has some mild soreness in his left shoulder and was scratched from Saturday's game against the Royals.
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.