ARLINGTON, Texas -- First baseman Mitch Moreland is thinking about one thing as soon as he sees a ball headed anywhere near Adrian Beltre at third base.
"I run to first as hard as I can because you never know if he's going to make a play or not," Moreland said. "I don't care what the ball is doing. There's no telling what he might do with it and you better be ready. He's a heck of a third baseman. I just run over there and let him throw it to me. I get to watch. And it's fun to watch."
It was sure fun to watch Tuesday. Beltre made a half-dozen impressive plays. He showed he could go to his left or right and snag tough liners and spinning grounders. He started two double plays on balls that most third baseman probably don't get to. And not only did he get to the balls with his glove, but he was able to make the proper throw to second quick enough to turn two.
He did it with a new infield at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The sod still needs time to fully grow in and the players must adjust to different bounces and spins than they are used to.
"He's a great defender," said Michael Young, who played third base for two seasons before Beltre arrived. "That's especially true with a brand new infield put in. It has some tricky hops out there and you could see some of those balls he had to absolutely tackle. He did a great job for us. Our pitchers gave him a lot of action down there and he had a great night."
Beltre made an impact on the Rangers as soon as he set foot on the back fields at Surprise, Ariz., for spring training. Elvis Andrus in particular picked Beltre's brain for defensive advice and players spent time watching him prepare for games. He takes a ton of grounders and manager Ron Washington points out that it's his feet that makes the difference. He's able to react quickly and get himself in the right spot.
"We're certainly getting a look at what we thought we were getting," Washington said. "He's a Gold Glove defensive player. He made quite a few plays out there tonight to prevent more runs from getting on the board. Defense is key and he's certainly important for us on that corner."
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Beltre has six defensive runs saved. That is tied for second with Alex Rodriguez. Beltre had 10 defensive runs saved in 2010, which was tied for sixth among third baseman.