Kinsler's level swing pleasing to Wash

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers mustered just four hits in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Two were home runs by Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland.

For Kinsler, it was his fourth dinger of the spring and his second leading off.

He hit nine homers last season in 103 games. He hit 49 in 2008 and 2009 combined. But, he also drew criticism for an uppercut swing that made it seem as though he was trying to put it out of the park every time at the plate no matter the situation. That changed last season as Kinsler worked to reduce the uppercut and hit more balls on a line.

As 2011 approaches with Kinsler in the lead-off spot, can he successfully mix a power stroke with the kind of patience he showed in the postseason?

"I just want him to set the stage and set the table for us," manager Ron Washington said. "And there will be days when that table is going to be set where he catches one and takes it out of the ballpark. Am I looking for him to hit 30-something bombs? No. If that happens I'll take it."

So far in the spring, four of Kinsler's seven hits for a .545 average, have left the ballpark. They've also almost been exclusively line-drive shots.

"I don't see that uppercut swing," Washington said. "I see a short, crisp path to the baseball. I think that's what every hitter is looking for. That's what I see down here. I don't see an uppercut. Will that come into play? I'm quite sure at some point it will when he gets tired, but I just want Ian to be Ian and play baseball the way he's capable of playing baseball."

*Starting pitcher Colby Lewis had control issues in the first and third innings. throwing a high number of changeups, he gave up two runs in the first inning and was helped out of the game by a stellar throw from Nelson Cruz to gun down Stephen Drew at the plate to end the first inning. Lewis walked three and surrendered four hits in the.

*Left-handed hopeful Michael Kirkman threw a solid three scoreless innings after Lewis. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out one. He got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the third inning and then pitched to the minimum six batters over his next two innings thanks to catcher Yorvit Torrealba throwing out a base stealer at second. "His breaking ball was pretty good today and he was able to keep his fastball and spot it down, so he did a good job."

*Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are off to slow starts with the bat, but neither appears to be too worried about it. Hamilton is stuck on one hit for the spring after going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Saturday to drop his averag to .083. Cruz is batting .154 after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

*Ryan Tucker took the loss, giving up the game-winning run on two hits in the bottom of the ninth. It was the first run allowed by Rangers relievers in two games. After the A's touched up C.J. Wilson for three runs in the first inning of Friday's game, four pitchers went the final six innings without giving up a run. On Saturday, Kirkman, Darren O'Day (one inning) and Pedro Strop (one inning) pitched five scoreless innings without allowing a run.