SURPRISE, Ariz. — Rangers manager Ron Washington was not ready to list off his lineup for Opening Day, but did say that third baseman Adrian Beltre will be the cleanup hitter. “He’s a threat and he can hit any pitch,” Washington said. “To me, that’s the key right there. He’s a threat to hit any pitch. He’s there to produce runs.” Beltre hit .296 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs despite missing five weeks of the season and playing in 124 games. Beltre actually hit better the final month of the season as the No. 5 hitter, batting .319 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs in just over 200 at-bats in that spot. He was no sloutch at cleanup, either, producing 55 RBIs and hitting 16 homers with a .276 average in 272 at-bats.
* Washington said he plans to start Craig Gentry in CF (saying he finished 2011 with the club, so he’ll start the first Cactus League game out there), Mike Napoli at catcher, Mitch Moreland at first base and will play Michael Young, though he hasn’t determined if that’s at DH or in the field.
* Washington acknowledged that besides left-handed relief, center field and utility infielder, there isn’t much to be decided. That’s why health is the No. 1 goal of the Cactus League games. “I’m looking for these guys to stay healthy and get their repetition,” Washington said. “They can play. We just have to get them the things they need to be ready and see what happens once the season starts”.
Thomas Brunt covers the Texas Rangers on his own personal sports-blog, you can follow him on Twitter, but he gave it up for Lent, he will be back on tweeting on Easter Sunday, though.
Note: Information from the ESPN Dallas Texas Rangers blog was used for this report.