All those fans impatiently wondering why the Red Sox are so cautious with handling injuries to key contributors such as Carl Crawford, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie and others got a helpful reminder Friday night as to why not pushing the issue is a wise course.
Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is batting .276 with 20 home runs and a team-high 76 runs batted in, left in the fifth inning with a strained hamstring.
Beltre said he has felt soreness in his hamstrings before but he has never gone to the disabled list for that part of his body, so he continued to push it. Running hard from first to third base on a Michael Young single against the Blue Jays, Beltre came up limping.
The Rangers scheduled an MRI for Beltre, who will miss Saturday's game.
"I just hope it's not as bad as it felt," Beltre told ESPN.
"It felt like a really hard grab," he added. "It felt like it was going to tear my leg, but it didn't get to that point."
Beltre batted .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBIs while playing in 154 games with the Red Sox in 2010.
Every fan wants his team's players to return as quickly as possible. When the Red Sox' starting pitching was struggling on the field and with injuries, some fans clamored for Buchholz to be shoved back into the rotation. Crawford's absence created an opening for Josh Reddick's emergence, but it also exposed some holes that led to Mike Cameron's departure.
The Rangers probably wish the tough-minded Beltre volunteered to take it easy rather than risk injury. Playing through injury might win Beltre points as a gamer, but it could cost his team games if it leads to an extended absence. And hamstring issues never seem to go away quickly.
Of all the contending teams, the Rangers might be best equipped to absorb the possible loss of their leading run-producer. Young has played all four infield positions capably in his career and has been used primarily as a designated hitter this season.
Having a .329 hitter as a injury fill-in option is nice, but that move would hurt the AL West-leading Rangers' defense and in turn put a lesser bat at DH. They could keep Young at DH and put Omar Quintanilla at third base, hoping the 29-year-old journeyman who hasn't played in the big leagues since 2009 can be a placeholder if Beltre misses time.
It's a problem Texas manager Ron Washington would rather not have, though, which is why Theo Epstein and Terry Francona may be watching from afar and not feel at all guilty about treating their own banged up players carefully.
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