Adrian Beltre has made enough progress from his right calf injury that Rangers manager Ron Washington feels he could be able to make his spring debut Monday against the Dodgers, according to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas.
If it isn’t Monday, it shouldn’t be long. Beltre ran the bases for a fourth straight day this morning and Washington mentioned he was running 4.2 seconds to first base and looked good during some difficult drills with the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
The 31-year-old third baseman feels two weeks of games will be “more than enough” time to get ready for the start of the season.
“I need to get in some games, see some breaking balls, get my timing and see the strike zone,” Beltre said. “Come April 1, you turn on the switch and that’s it.”
Beltre signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Rangers in January after batting .321/.365/.553 with 28 homers, 102 RBI and a .919 OPS with the Red Sox last season. He’ll be an improvement over Michael Young at third base and his righty bat should fit quite nicely in the middle of the Rangers’ lineup.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP
UPDATE, 5:08 PM EDT: Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will not rule out a World Series appearance for Kyle Schwarber if the Cubs advance. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that Schwarber could play through a simulated game on Sunday, during which the Cubs’ medical and baseball staff would evaluate his chances for a late season return. If he does play, it will likely be in a pinch-hitting or DH role and not on the field.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.