Veteran Beltre remains valuable asset

Rangers' third baseman nears 3,000 hits

Veteran Beltre remains valuable asset

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Rangers squad each day this week. Today's topic: How's your star?

ARLINGTON -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said he doesn't pay much attention to milestones.

Beltre views that as something he can reflect on once he is retired, something that's not going to happen for a couple more years. But Beltre is going to have a difficult time overlooking the big milestone that's coming up.

30 stars ready to shine bright in 2017

Beltre goes into the 2017 season with 2,942 hits. If all goes well, he will become the 31st player in Major League history with 3,000 career hits. It remains one of the biggest milestones for any hitter in the Majors.

It will also reaffirm what almost everybody has come to recognize in the past few years. When Beltre, who is just beginning a two-year contract extension, finally retires, he will almost certainly be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

"He's not a potential Hall of Famer, he is a Hall of Famer," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "If he's not a Hall of Famer, then something's wrong. This guy is still playing at an incredible level, and he's passionate about this game. He's reached his goals here of getting to a World Series. I know he wants to eventually win a World Series, but he's been a big part of what [the Rangers] have done the last couple years."

Beltre is the biggest part of the Rangers and their best player. He turns 38 on April 7 and is coming off another excellent season. Beltre led the Rangers to another division title by hitting .300 with 32 home runs, 104 RBIs and a .521 slugging percentage and won his fifth Gold Glove for defensive excellence.

Undaunted by age, Beltre has committed this spring to playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

"It might be my last chance to play in one," Beltre said.

Beltre's biggest goal is to win a World Series. He has made it clear that's his driving force as his terrific career heads to the finish line. But the milestones continue to pile up.

Beltre has 445 home runs, which currently ranks 41st all-time. Reaching 500 is a discussion for a year from now but finishing with 30 this season would tie him with Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Willie Stargell.

He has 1,571 RBIs, which is 43rd all-time. With 26 more, Beltre would pass Hall of Famers George Brett (1,596) and Mike Schmidt (1,595) for most all-time by a third baseman. Beltre needs 72 runs scored to become the 73rd player all-time to reach 1,500 for his career.

The lists go on and on and so does the Rangers best player.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.