SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After falling short by a single game in the American League West last season, the Texas Rangers can surely point to several games, plays and perhaps even pitches that could have made up the difference.
Knowing the division crown was lost by the slightest of margins, the Rangers are approaching 2013 with a focus on fundamentals, doing their best to make sure nothing is left on the table at season's end.
"Fundamentals are something we emphasize, and each time we don't get something done down here, they hear about it," manager Ron Washington said. "The only thing I don't want to do is add pressure to them, but there are situations out there that you have to take advantage of."
With three teams finishing within five games of each other, the AL West was among the tightest divisions in baseball last season.
While the newly added Houston Astros are not expected to contend for the division crown, Washington expects the AL West to be even tougher in 2013.
"I think it'll be even tighter," Washington said. "You're going to lose some ballgames that you should have won. You're going to win some ballgames that you should have lost. It's those other ones in between that you give away, [those are the ones we] want to try to prevent."
The ability to score runners from second with less than two outs is something Washington wants to see more of this spring and into the regular season.
"It's just something that we want to stress because that's part of playing winning baseball," Washington said. "If you can't execute, you can't win because every night you are going to pound someone into submission."
After chest soreness scare, Cruz back in action
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz -- One day after Nelson Cruz's chest soreness put a scare into the Rangers, the right fielder was in the lineup on Saturday, batting fourth against the D-backs.
Cruz woke up Friday morning with soreness in his chest, and after undergoing a series of tests, it was revealed to simply be muscle soreness.
"They did the tests and everything came up negative," Cruz said. "It means my heart is good. It was a muscle."
When tests on Cruz's chest came back negative, the entire organization let out a huge sigh of relief.
"I think he was more concerned than anything else, and after everything checked out, well, now he's well [mentally]," manager Ron Washington said.
Saturday will be the last time Cruz plays with the Rangers prior to the World Baseball Classic. Cruz will leave the Rangers on Sunday to begin preparing with the Dominican Republic team.
"Nelson is full go for the WBC," assistant general manager Thad Levine said.
Gentry confident for 2013 following career season
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Rangers called on Craig Gentry in 2012, he answered. The 29-year-old outfielder has had a brief Major League career, but last year was the most productive of his four seasons.
Playing in a career-high 121 games, Gentry hit .304, also a career best. Defensively, Gentry played 116 games in the outfield without committing an error.
The Arkansas native was certainly pleased with his 2012 performance, but he wants to make sure it is a sign of things to come rather than simply one good season.
"I am coming off a good season for myself," said Gentry, who hit his first home run of the spring in Saturday's 7-1 victory against Arizona. "I'm just going to try to keep it going during Spring Training, have a good Spring Training and work it into the season."
And thus far, he is doing exactly that.
Although it is still early in Spring Training, Gentry is hitting .455 with three RBIs and three stolen bases in six games.
With a strong 2012 and a fast start to spring, Gentry says he has not made any changes to his offseason program in recent years. He simply does the same thing he has always been doing, just doing so with confidence.
"It's just more of a mindset for me," Gentry said. "Going up there and being confident, having an approach and a plan and sticking to it."
While Gentry figures to receive a significant amount of playing time in 2013, Leonys Martin and Julio Borbon are also competing for time in center field, but Gentry knows focusing on others will not benefit him in any way.
"I'm just going to go out and do what I need to do," Gentry said. "If I take care of my own business, that's all I can ask for. I'm not going to try and think about things I can't control."
Despite shoulder injury, E. Beltre likely for Classic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As the World Baseball Classic gets under way, all signs point to Rangers outfielder Engel Beltre participating.
Beltre has been dealing with a strained shoulder, but he practiced Friday and is expected to be very active over the weekend.
"Engel Beltre is going to do a full workout on the field [Saturday]," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "If everything is OK, he will play [Sunday]."
Although Beltre will not report to Team Spain on Sunday, which was the initial plan, the 23-year-old still plans on representing his country in the World Baseball Classic.
"We've gotten feedback from the Spanish team with regards to Engel, and they're comfortable with him potentially reporting a little bit late," Levine said.
The Rangers want to see Beltre, who hit .261 in 133 games for Double-A Frisco in 2012, play two games before he travels to the Classic.
Although Beltre will likely miss a couple of the Spaniards' exhibition games, they do not begin playing in the tournament until Friday.
• Adrian Beltre, sidelined with calf inflammation, is expected to play Monday, according to assistant general manager Thad Levine. When told of Levine's statement, manager Ron Washington could not confirm but said Beltre was close to getting in the lineup.
• Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless inning, allowing two hits, in his Spring Training debut Saturday against the D-backs.
• Joe Nathan is expected to make his first appearance of Spring Training on Sunday.
• Recovering from elbow surgery, Colby Lewis came out of Friday's bullpen session feeling "good," according to Levine. The right-hander is scheduled to throw another session, but it has yet to be determined when that will take place.
• Lance Berkman is scheduled to play again on Sunday -- marking the first time he has played back-to-back games this spring.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.