With Gentry to DL, Martin will start in CF

ST. LOUIS -- Engel Beltre got the news late Saturday night that he was headed to the major leagues.

“It was the biggest surprise in my life,” he said Sunday after joining the Texas Rangers before their Sunday night game against the St. Louis Cardinals. “I just said, ‘wow’ and started crying.”

Even though he is only 23 years old, Beltre’s road to the majors has not been short. He was signed when he was 16 by the Boston Red Sox and has been playing in the minors since 2007, when he was 17. He played only 34 games with the Red Sox’s team in the Gulf Coast League before he was traded to the Texas organization six years ago.

“It was time for me to get the chance and the opportunity,” Beltre said.

The Rangers called up Beltre from Triple A Round Rock after placing outfielder Craig Gentry on the 15-day disabled list. An MRI Saturday found that Gentry was suffering from a non-displaced fracture of his left hand.

Gentry was hurt when he was hit by a pitch on June 18. The DL move is retroactive to June 21.

Gentry said he had a similar injury once before, in college, and that it took two to three weeks to heal. Initial X-rays after he was injured did not reveal the break.

“It’s definitely going to need some rest,” he said. “I’ve been trying to take some swings every day to see how it feels. Obviously it wasn’t going good so they decided to get the MRI.

“They just felt it was a bone bruise. They said they could have done a hundred X-rays and it would never have shown up. It took the MRI to discover it.”

The injury means that Leonys Martin, who has started the past 12 games for Texas, including Sunday night, will continue to get the bulk of the work while Gentry is out. Ten of Martin’s 12 consecutive starts have been in center.

Manager Ron Washington said, however, he will find time to play Beltre, who is considered an above-average defensive outfielder. He had been playing center in Round Rock.

“He plays hard,” said Washington, who saw Beltre in spring training. “He’s got a good bat, he can run, play defense. I will find some playing time for him, but he is not here to unseat Leonys. We needed a center fielder and he was the center fielder we had down there.”

At Round Rock, the left-handed hitting Beltre was hitting .300 with four homers and 21 RBI in 72 games.

Off day looming: The Rangers will enjoy their first day off since June 3 on Monday in New York, completing a stretch of 20 games in 20 days on Sunday night. They have only one more scheduled day off before the All-Star break, on Monday, July 1.

Washington is pleased with how his team has come through this stretch. They were 8-11 in the stretch before Sunday night’s game, including a stretch in which they lost nine of 11.

“I think we handled ourselves well,” Washington said. “We had a bad spell, but we handled it well.”

The Rangers came out of a six-game losing streak with wins in five of their past six games going into Sunday night, including beating Oakland three times in a four-game series.

“It came at the right time,” Washington said. “When we first lost (Ian) Kinsler it really wasn’t that big a deal because we still had the majority of our lineup. Then we lost Mitch Moreland and it really changed everything. Getting those two guys back put a little stability to the lineup. With Kinsler coming back you see Elvis (Andrus) bouncing around again.”

No All-Star starters? The latest voting update for the All-Star Game was released over the weekend, and the Rangers appear to be in danger of not having a player in the starting lineup. For the past five years Texas has had two players start the game.

Adrian Beltre, who has started at third base the past two years, is more than 3 million votes behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. Lance Berkman is second in the voting for the DH spot, but he is more than 1.2 million votes behind Boston’s David Ortiz.

No other Ranger is higher than third in the voting at their positions. Voting will go on until July 4.