Adrian Beltre won't miss Opening Day

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Third baseman Adrian Beltre will be out longer than originally expected because of his calf strain, but the Texas Rangers emphasized Thursday that he's not in jeopardy of missing Opening Day.

The Rangers originally thought Beltre could return from his Grade 1 calf strain by March 10, but assistant general manager Thad Levine said that likely won't be the case.

"We're less focused on the exact target date and making sure he's ready for Opening Day," Levine said. "We've been given no cause for concern that Opening Day is in jeopardy. We're still optimistic it's not going to be a month, but it will be more than 10 to 14 days."

Beltre, who initially injured himself running on a treadmill before spring training, is trying to avoid a second setback by returning too early. He continued to work in the swimming pool Thursday morning and will also continue to hit in the batting cages and throw. He has yet to take any fielding practice, but Beltre said that he hopes to get on the field in a matter of days.

"It's doing better, feeling a lot better," Beltre said. "We start increasing little by little more exercise. I am able to do more things with no pain. Probably in the next couple of days if I get cleared by the training staff, I'll start taking ground balls and see how it goes and take it little by little."

Beltre was the Rangers' key offseason acquisition after missing out on re-signing Cliff Lee and acquiring other starting pitching help. His signing for a guaranteed $80 million over five seasons pushed team captain Michael Young out at third and into a role the club has deemed as a super-utility position.

Young, Chris Davis and Brian Barden have made starts at third base in the four spring games.

Beltre's first spring appearance will now apparently take longer than one more week.

"I'm not concerned about March 10 or anything," Beltre said. "I'm concerned about Opening Day. I want to be healthy Opening Day so I don't want to rush anything."

Jeff Caplan covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.