ARLINGTON -- Leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo has quickly lived up to his reputation as a hitter who knows how to get on base -- his .475 on-base percentage led the Rangers and was seventh-best in the American League entering Friday's game against Houston -- and now manager Ron Washington would like to see Choo take more advantage of his opportunities on the basepaths.
Since getting caught in a rundown between third and home in the third game of the season, Choo hasn't made any major baserunning errors, but Washington believes he may be a touch too tentative. "All we can do is let him know that we believe in aggressive baserunning," Washington said.
"He'll finally figure it out. He's in a new environment and the guy maybe doesn't want to make mistakes, but you can't play the game of baseball without making mistakes. … Just learn from whatever bad running mistakes you make and don't repeat them and we'll live with it. I think pretty soon you'll see him start to loosen up on the basepaths."
At the plate, Choo is giving the Rangers what they hoped for when they signed him to a seven-year, $130 million contract during the offseason. Entering Friday he led the club with seven walks and his 11 hits were second behind Alex Rios.
Choo said he hasn't given his strong start much thought, however.
"It's just too early," Choo said. "I'm not thinking about every 10 games, I'm thinking about every pitch. Hopefully I'll play well, hopefully I'll stay healthy the whole season, but I think when people talk about numbers, it's too early for that. At the end of [each] at-bat, I want to sit in the dugout and say I had a great at-bat, that's all I want."
Lewis closes in on return to Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Colby Lewis may only have to wait a few more days before making his return to a Major League mound, and judging by his demeanor during a visit to the Rangers' clubhouse Friday, he remains a patient man.
Asked to describe how it felt to be on the verge of a comeback after a protracted recovery from elbow and hip surgeries, Lewis said, "It actually doesn't seem like it's been that long."
In fact, it has been 632 days since his last start for the Rangers.
Lewis could be slated to pitch against Seattle in the three-game series that begins Monday, though he will not be officially added to the Rangers' 40-man roster until the day he makes his comeback.
After thanking Dr. Keith Meister, who performed elbow surgery on Lewis in 2012, and Dr. Edward Su, who performed hip surgery in 2013, the 34-year-old right-hander was thankful the time has come for him to return. He believed he was close at the end of Spring Training, but was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock where he made a couple of rehab starts.
The latter came on April 6, when he threw five innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three.
"I'm happy to have another opportunity and for the Rangers to give me that opportunity," Lewis said. "I felt like I was healthy and ready … I want to get outs and be productive and I knew I could do that at the big league level. This is where I wanted to be, and it's happened."
Lewis doesn't see himself as the same pitcher as the one who made his last start in July 2012.
"You change, of course, throughout the course of your career," he said. "I definitely feel different. I've got more range of motion. It's just being able to adapt and figure out what you've got that day. That's kind of the way I've run my career, just adapting to how my body feels and what I'm going to be able to perform with that day. That's kind of all I've ever done."
Rangers waiting on decision on Beltre
ARLINGTON -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game Friday and a decision looms for the club on whether -- or perhaps merely when -- to send Beltre and his strained left quadriceps muscle to the disabled list.
"I'll check with the trainers," manager Ron Washington said, "and usually when I go in there to check, Adrian is there. He's got to go through some treatment and we'll make a call. … We're not going to do anything stupid. We've got time. We'll do something by this weekend."
In Beltre's absence, veteran Kevin Kouzmanoff was in the lineup Friday at third and will be the primary stopgap at that position, along with help from Josh Wilson, if Beltre is out for an extended period.
Kouzmanoff, 32, didn't play in the Major Leagues at all in 2012 and 2013 but had an impressive spring with the Rangers. He hit .370 (20-for-54) with three homers and 12 RBIs in 27 games in Arizona, but missed making the club and went to Triple-A Round Rock to start the season. Now he's a starter for the Rangers, however temporarily, less than two weeks later.
"It feels good to be back," said Kouzmanoff, a career .256 hitter with 85 homers and 361 RBIs over 673 games and seven seasons. "I've had a couple tough years.
"I guess that's why you keep pushing and practicing hard, playing hard. You never know what can happen. It doesn't last long so you've got to give it all you've got."
Washington said he likes "the fact that he knows how to play the game. You can see the way he plays that he has an understanding of the game of baseball. … He's steady. He reads situations well. He plays to the game. That's my type of player."
• Friday was the 20th anniversary of the Rangers' first game at what was then known as The Ballpark in Arlington. In honor of the occasion, the Rangers held a pregame ceremony with former team president Tom Schieffer. Former Arlington mayor Richard Greene threw the ceremonial first pitch to David Hulse, who recorded the stadium's first hit two decades ago on a leadoff double in the first inning.
• The Rangers entered Friday with four home runs in nine games -- the second-fewest home runs in the Major Leagues ahead of the Royals' one.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.