OAKLAND -- Outfielder Engel Beltre is headed back to Triple-A Round Rock. But for how long?
Beltre was optioned to Round Rock on Friday to make room for infielder Adam Rosales, who was claimed off waivers from the Athletics. Beltre was sent down after hitting .300 (9-for-30) in 13 games.
"Improved ... professional, he really took his opportunity up here very seriously," manager Ron Washington said. "There wasn't a day while he was here that he didn't do something to get better. We just felt we have the outfield covered."
That may change. The Rangers are still awaiting word whether outfielder Nelson Cruz will receive a 50-game suspension because of his dealings with Biogenesis, the Miami wellness clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to multiple players. They also do not know whether Cruz would appeal his suspension and remain active until that process is completed.
The latest word is that an announcement is coming Monday, although nothing is certain. But if Cruz is suspended and elects not to appeal, the Rangers will have to add another outfielder. It could be Beltre, who hits left-handed. Or it could be Joey Butler, a right-handed hitter who is batting .292 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs in 94 games at Round Rock. He is hitting .320 with a .420 on-base percentage and a .532 slugging percentage against left-handers.
Jurickson Profar could also see more time in the outfield during Cruz's absence, but Washington said Profar was not the optimal choice.
"I'm not saying you won't see him out there, but don't go to the ballpark looking for it," Washington said. "Profar will not be the solution. I think it would be [Craig] Gentry and whoever else we decide to put out there from our [farm] system."
In the meantime, Beltre will play regularly at Round Rock. He played in just 13 games, including eight starts, since being called up from Round Rock on June 23. Players who are optioned to the Minors have to remain there for at least 10 days. But that rule is waived in case of injury or suspension.
"I had good time and a good experience with the guys," Beltre said. "I waited a long time to be in the Major Leagues ... it was an unbelievable time."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.