Beltre: MVP two-man race that he's not in

SEATTLE -- In many years and in many leagues -- at least ones without mighty Miguel Cabrera -- Adrian Beltre would be included right now in conversations for the most valuable player award.

Already a Gold Glove third baseman for the Texas Rangers in each of the past two seasons, Beltre entered Tuesday leading the American League with 50 multi-hit games and was batting a season-high .327, third-best in the AL. He was second in hits (166, four behind Cabrera), fifth in slugging (.539), tied for eighth in home runs (27) and tied for ninth in RBIs (79).

Texas entered the second game of this series at the Seattle Mariners 22-3 when Beltre homers.

All that has been with pitchers intentionally walking him at least twice in games. That happened to Beltre on Monday -- for the second time in a week.

But he is again excelling in a season Cabrera is owning.

Cabrera entered the day leading the AL in batting (.359), slugging (.688), hits (170) and RBIs (130). He was tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis with 94 runs and was three behind Davis’ league-leading 46 home runs.

Beltre finished third last year in the league’s MVP voting, when the Detroit Tigers’ hitting wonder took home the award.

He sees it heading that way again this season.

“Obviously, Davis is right there with him. And obviously it will depend on where their teams end up. But what Cabrera is doing is simply amazing,” Beltre said Tuesday before he sought to continue his torrid summer against his former team at Safeco Field.

“It’s a two-player race right now,” Beltre said of the AL MVP voting. “It depends what happens over these last four, five weeks. But what Cabrera is doing is unbelievable … and Davis is having a hell of a season, too.”

As for himself?

“I can do better,” Beltre said.

Well, so can Superman.

“I’m not saying I’ve been bad. I’ve done OK,” he said. “But I can do better.”

He must have been thinking back to May 1. That day ended with him batting .214.

Then he hit .376 in May, .278 in June and .369 with a season-high nine home runs in July. He hit .395 through his first 23 games of this month.

“There’s been some parts of the season I haven’t done well,” Beltre said. “But for the most part, I’ve done a good job.”

For Beltre, the bigger prize than MVP is the team winning the AL West -- and avoiding the one, knockout game as a wild card that doomed the Rangers last October against Davis and the Orioles.

Texas entered Tuesday 2½ games ahead of Oakland atop the division. Last year the A’s stormed past the Rangers to win the West on the final day of the regular season, after Texas had owned a 13-game division lead.

“This is more of a race than last year,” Beltre said.

“Last year we were more comfortable. This year we are more hungry.”

Ogando making his way back: Right-hander Alexi Ogando, on the disabled list since Aug. 20 with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, is with the team here and threw a distance of 120 feet on Tuesday. The Rangers expect the 2011 All-Star to throw off a mound this weekend when they return home.

The team is expecting Ogando (5-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 15 starts this season) to re-join them in early September. Despite Travis Blackley’s early success as the new No. 5 starter since Texas acquired him from Houston two weeks ago -- including his win Monday while allowing five hits in six innings at Seattle -- the Rangers are planning on Ogando starting for them in September.

“That’s our intention,” manager Ron Washington said, when asked if Ogando might go into the bullpen instead. “We haven’t discussed anything else.”

Ogando was a part-time closer who saved three games for Texas in 2012. He appeared in 58 games last season, 57 of them in relief.

Washington isn’t sure if Ogando would go out on a minor league rehabilitation assignment with a Rangers’ affiliate that is in the postseason early next month.

Whatever becomes of Ogando, Washington likes the choices he now has for his fifth starter during this season’s stretch run, as opposed to 2012’s.

“We’ve got a lot more options,” the manager said, while not completely ruling out “piggybacking” Blackley and Ogando in combined, multiple-inning outings next month.

“Last year, I don’t think we had that many options.”

Martin returns: As expected, Leonys Martin was leading off and playing center field for the first time since he injured his right ankle Saturday colliding with fellow outfielder David Murphy in pursuit of a fly ball hit by White Sox slugger Paul Konerko in Chicago.

In Martin’s past 23 starts in the leadoff spot entering Tuesday, the Rangers were 19-4.

Tepesch’s rehab progress: Reliever Nick Tepesch, on the disabled list since July 7 with right-elbow inflammation, pitched two innings plus two batters Tuesday in his first rehabilitation outing for Double-A Frisco. He allowed three hits and an earned run, walking one in 41 pitches. The Rangers said he felt fine following the routine outing.