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Baseball’s Ultimate Commando Injured on a Treadmill: Only in (St)rangerland

Dispatches from Camp Ranger this morn reporting third baseman Adrian Beltre shelved for the next 10-14 days of Cactus action with a "Grade I right calf muscle strain." According to Evan Grant's sources, the Rangers think this is a very mild injury and are confident that Beltre will be ready for opening day. With the ink on his Grade I 5-year, $80 million deal barely dry, his ass, calves and everything else had better damn well be ready by April 1st, but I wonder.

Beltre has been on limited duty since he reported to camp last week. In this case, "limited duty" means no running (I've been on limited duty for a decade).

I was hoping to learn that Beltre, aged 31 years (according to the peerless public record keepers of Santo Domingo), came into camp with the bum leg having injured it running stability and propulsion drills at some sophisticated off-season training facility run by a bunch of guys with a shitload of degrees in stuff I can't pronounce. You know, one of those places where they make you run inside a wind tunnel they bought from Boeing or General Dynamics. One of those places you might go if you're turning 32 in April and coming off a terrific year that earned you a 5-year, $80 million deal with your new team that's expected to win the AL West again.

Alas, that's not what happened. Beltre injured his calf running on a treadmill at his home the week before he reported to camp. Really? The best defensive third baseman in the game can't get hurt on his home treadmill. My 66-year old mother is the kind of person that gets hurt on a treadmill (pulled a hammy right after Christmas, I shit you not). What in the name of Michael Jack Schmidt was he doing? The only reason you get on a treadmill is because you hate running so much that you have to watch TV while you do it. And when you're making $16 million scoots per as a non-pitcher, you can't get ready for the season by stepping off a couple of miles while watching Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds on Oprah.

I don't know why I'm surprised by this. Here's a guy who plays the hot corner in the big leagues without wearing a fucking cup because he says "it's uncomfortable." You know what else is uncomfortable? Catching a Tomahawk missle with your man grapes. Question: What does a line drive to a 3rd baseman playing just back of the grass look like coming off the boomstick of a major-league hitter? Answer: Artillery. The rock's in your jock right about the time you hear it come off the bat. Hell, ask Beltre himself. After he took one off a bollock in Seattle two years ago, he told reporters that he "thought it exploded." And he still doesn't wear a cup: "If it only happens every 11 years, I'll take my chances." Friends, I cannot explain that logic any more than I can explain why somebody would tie a rump roast to their leg, then scuba dive with a great white shark. For God's sake man, it's your balls.

Anyway, according to Beltre, he's never had issues with his calf muscles before. To be fair, Beltre has been a durable player; averaging 140 games per over his dozen years in the show. Lower back stiffness has been his only recurring problem (other than his penchant for risking testicular homicide on a daily basis). It's also that torturous period right before the NCAA tournament and then opening day of the baseball season when nothing is going on and I have nothing to bitch about besides the NBA, which is utterly unwatchable.

A couple of other Rangers notes...

Chris Davis: Baseball's Preeminent Swinger

In the meantime, the Rangers play their second intrasquad game of the spring today with Chris Davis manning third base. I heard a guy on the radio yesterday calling from Camp Ranger talking about how odd it was to see Davis, the former "answer" at first base now working out at third while Michael Young learns how to play first. I'm a hell of a lot less concerned with how Davis looks at third than I am with how he handles the bat.

Davis has been an annual temptation for scouts because he has plus power and he's an excellent defensive player. 89 of his career 200 ML hits are for extra bases (47/3/39). He arrived in Arlington in 2008 as the 1B of the future, but the future kept getting shipped back to Oklahoma City. Why? Because Chris Davis thinks that the strike zone is wider than the El Ballah Bypass in the Suez Canal. Over the last three seasons, only one major league player with at least 800 PAs has a worse BB/K ratio than Davis's 0.21: Miguel Olivo's 0.16. Davis whiffs an incredible 34.5% of his PAs (only three players higher than that using the same basis -- you can run the comparisons at Fangraphs.). The utter absence of plate discipline is why Texas ended up parting with Justin Smoak rather than Davis in the Cliff Lee bonanza last year.

Not much is being said about this, but the Rangers need Davis to either go to school on the zone or learn how to swing a 45-inch bat PDQ. If he does, he's still a very valuable trade chit. Davis could also still be an important part of the 2011 club if Mitch Moreland doesn't pan out, or if Jon Daniels finds a suitor for Michael Young.

Brandon Webb Update

Webb is still playing long-toss to strengthen his arm, although he might throw from a mound on Sunday or Monday. I'd be a little surprised if Webb is in the starting rotation when the Rangers break camp; mid-April or early May is a safer bet.

More later. We're only a few days from Cactus games.