Birthday boy Beltre says age brings wisdom

Rangers third baseman hugged, teased by teammates

Birthday boy Beltre says age brings wisdom

ANAHEIM -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre turned 37 Thursday. He received presents from his family, a nice dinner and cake from his wife, Sandra, on Wednesday, and lots of hugs from his teammates when he walked into the clubhouse Thursday.

"You look almost as good as I do," said designated hitter Prince Fielder, who turns 32 on May 6.

"I have never been a big fan of birthdays," Beltre said. "It's just another day."

Beltre made his Major League debut with the Dodgers at the age of 19 on June 24, 1998, and Thursday marked his 2,571st game played. That's second most among active players, behind Alex Rodriguez, and 45th all-time.

Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon is the oldest active player in the Majors at 43. Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey, who is 41, is the oldest player in the American League. According to baseball-reference.com, Beltre is the 35th oldest active player in the game.

"I think at 37 you are more wise," Beltre said. "You understand what's going on in front of you and how to deal with it. Nothing surprises you. Other than that, I don't feel that much difference than at 27."

He can also be a free agent after the season as Spring Training contract negotiations on an extension did not produce an agreement. He was hoping for a specific offer from the Rangers, but that wasn't presented to him.

"They have to do what they have to do, but I think I've earned a little respect of having something to say yes or no to," Beltre said. "Clearly we don't want to drag this into the season, but I hoped the people on the other side understand I would have liked to have had something to say yes or no to."

Only six times in Rangers history has a player been 37 and older, and played at least 100 games in a season: Brian Downing (1991-92), Rafael Palmeiro (2002-03), Eric Young (2004) and Sammy Sosa (2007).

Rangers beat

• The Rangers will activate pitcher A.J. Griffin before Friday's game so he can start against the Angels. They are expected to option long reliever Phil Klein to make room for him, but they will also have to make a 40-man roster move.

• Griffin will be making his first Major League start since Sept. 24, 2013. He missed the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and manager Jeff Banister said, "I would check his pulse if he wasn't emotional."

• It rained before Thursday's game and more wet weather is expected this weekend. The Rangers almost never see rain when they come to Anaheim, but the natives aren't used to it either. Pitcher Cole Hamels is from San Diego and said, "I couldn't go to the beach today because of El Nino."

• Double-A Frisco pitcher Jose Leclerc, who was in big league camp with the Rangers, is serving a five-game suspension to start the Texas League season. Leclerc was suspended in the offseason for an incident that happened at the end of last season. Leclerc hit a Midland batter with a pitch, starting an on-field altercation between the teams.

• Rangers traveling secretary Josh Shelton also celebrated his birthday Thursday.

• Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen allowed five runs Tuesday without recording an out. Shawn Tolleson did so on Wednesday. That has happened only 10 times previously in club history.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.