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Substitutes must help Texas survive

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the Texas Rangers, the month of April is about hanging on. After injuries in the offseason, at spring training and now during the season, the club merely has to stay in the AL West race and avoid falling too far behind.

So far, 12 games into the season, they are doing that. The Rangers found out Sunday that they won't have Adrian Beltre until April 25 at the earliest. It's the right move to shut him down and let that strained left quad heal properly so that he's in better position to help the team for the rest of the 2014 season. Again, surviving now allows the Rangers to try to thrive later. And they aren't thriving in August, September and -- they hope -- October without Beltre.

That means Kevin Kouzmanoff, a veteran who has bounced around, must step up and handle third base in Beltre's absence. So far, he's doing that. He had two more hits Sunday and has hit safely in all four games he has played for the Rangers, hitting .417 (5-for-12) with a double and an RBI. Kouzmanoff, frankly, played well enough to be on the club on Opening Day. But it made more roster sense to keep Jim Adduci, leaving Kouzmanoff waiting in Triple-A Round Rock.

"They just told me to swing it in the minors and be ready," Kouzmanoff said.

He was ready when the call came earlier than expected with Beltre out. Kouzmanoff didn't play in the second game of a doubleheader and showed up one hour before stretching at Fenway Park the next day.

But this isn't just about Kouzmanoff. The Rangers need more than that. Josh Wilson, who was with the team when spring training began, and Donnie Murphy, who joined the Rangers right before the season started, are handling second base with Jurickson Profar out. Murphy got extra duty Sunday when Elvis Andrus was ejected. Wilson shifted from second to shortstop and Murphy to second. It was Murphy who hit the game-winning sacrifice fly in the sixth, driving home Wilson.

"The key for us is to make sure we keep them in position where they can be successful," manager Ron Washington said. "Those two guys have been saviors up the middle for us. You saw the defense they played today."

It's going to be up to those guys, the bottom part of that 25-man roster, to help the Rangers survive this month. Twelve games in, they are doing that.