Engel Beltre had perhaps his toughest game of the season on Wednesday, as he took home the golden sombrero, going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
After watching Beltre's struggles, Rangers' Director of Player Development Scott Servais – who was in town – decided to give the 18-year-old a couple of days off.
Beltre played in just 65 games during his first professional season last summer. The centerfielder has already appeared in 74 games this year. In order to keep his body from wearing down, the Rangers are likely to begin giving Beltre more regularly scheduled off days in the second half.
Servais decided to take advantage of the rest by having Beltre work on a few issues at the plate.
"They were trying to teach me the separation and the timing," said Beltre. "We were trying to work with my hands because it was way too quick. They slowed down my body and stuff."
On Thursday afternoon, Beltre worked on his pre-pitch routine and plate discipline while standing in an imaginary batter's box during a Derek Holland side session.
"I was just trying to relax my hands, relax all my body, take a good breath, and see a good pitch – that pitch in the middle," he said. "Scott Servais told me to just look for that pitch. A pitch outside the strike zone, just see it and don't swing."
The work and rest appeared to pay off during Beltre's return to the lineup on Saturday, as he was 4-for-5 with a home run. Beltre, who has gained a reputation as a dead-pull hitter this season, even lined an opposite field single to left in the first inning.
"It feels great," said Beltre when asked about coming back strong. "Before the game, I prayed to God to give me a good day because the last game I played, it was four strikeouts.
"I had two days off and I was working on my swing and separation and other stuff. I was just trying to come back good. I didn't think I was going to have a day like today, but I just thank God."
Beltre lined his home run – a two-run shot in the fifth inning – into the Lumber Lounge in right field. The ball was nearly caught by LumberKings' radio announcer Dave Lezotte, who was calling the game from the outfield.
After the game, Beltre talked about the at-bat.
"It was three balls, one strike, and I was just thinking to put the ball in play and stay back," he said. "He gave me the pitch – the fastball up – and I just swung the bat."
The native of the Dominican Republic got his second consecutive start on Sunday afternoon and was 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base. The free pass was just his sixth of the season, but it came two days after Servais discussed pitch selection with the prospect.
Beltre makes use of days off
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