Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Friday afternoon that he reserved the right to remove third baseman Adrian Beltre from the starting lineup if Beltre's batting practice session did not go well.
So what did Beltre do? He positively unloaded.
In a notable display of power, even for batting practice, Beltre showed his desire to remain in the lineup. In one particular stretch, he crushed three straight pitches to separate fields, the first to the camera well in center field, the next well beyond the bullpens in right and then the last a bomb down the left-field line and onto Lansdowne Street.
Despite the start-saving display, Beltre, who is hitting just .156 (5-for-32) in July, remains a bit banged up and he may deal with some physical issues for some time going forward, Francona said.
"It's not perfect," the skipper said of Beltre, who suffered a left hamstring strain in Toronto on Sunday and sat out Thursday's series opener against Texas. "He's not gonna be perfect tomorrow. He hasn't been perfect for awhile."
Beltre said Thursday he felt good enough to play, but Francona wanted to avoid rushing him back. The Red Sox' leading hitter at .330, Beltre may be removed for a pinch runner in Friday's game if Francona feels the need.
"I think we're hoping to get the production out of his bat," Francona added.
Based on Friday's batting practice session, Beltre is ready to deliver.