Beltre clears big hurdle, begins to run bases

Third baseman could return to lineup by beginning of June

Beltre clears big hurdle, begins to run bases

DETROIT -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre hit a significant milepost in his recovery from a strained right calf muscle.

Beltre started running the bases on Saturday. That is always a big step for a player coming back from a leg injury.

"It's according to the plan," Beltre said. "We are following the plan, and this was part of the plan. It's just the first day. We are going in the right direction. I was running at about 50-60 percent. It was the first time for running the bases, and I wanted to make sure I got the feel for it."

The Rangers are eager to see how Beltre responds on Sunday. He also took batting practice, fielded ground balls at third base and worked on chasing popups.

"I think Adrian had a really nice day," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "That's probably the most ground balls he has taken. It would be encouraging if he shows up tomorrow feeling good. It's encouraging that he was able to complete the day, but it's the 24-hour period and what he can do tomorrow -- that's significant. I'm cautiously optimistic."

If all goes well, Beltre will continue to do his running while the Rangers are in Boston next week, picking up the intensity as he progresses. At some point, Beltre will be sent to Surprise, Ariz., to get extra at-bats in an extended spring training game.

The possibility Beltre could be back in the lineup by the beginning of June is increasing.

"The body feels good," Beltre said. "The calf is the big test. We are giving it time to be at 100 percent. We don't want to jump to any conclusions, and we don't want any setbacks. The trainers said to take it slow, and that's what we are doing."

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.