DETROIT -- Rangers manager Ron Washington watched Ian Kinsler in early batting practice earlier this week and liked what he saw. Kinsler was spraying the ball to all fields, hitting it on a line and appeared to have his timing down.
"We just haven't seen it in the games," Washington said.
Kinsler did have an RBI single on Thursday, helping the Rangers to a 5-2 win over the Tigers. But it was only his second hit in the last eight games, a span of 34 at-bats.
"What I’m seeing is a low-ball hitter who is chasing that high ball a little too much," Washington said. "I’m also seeing when he is getting pitches to do something with, he hasn’t been able to do anything with them."
Washington said he sees "a guy who wants to get it done so bad," but that Kinsler hasn't been able to slow down and relax. Kinsler is working hard with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, taking extra swings in the batting cages and working on his mechanics in early batting practice. He's had some line drives that were outs, but has also missed pitches he normally hits. Many of those have turned into fly balls or pop-ups instead of hits.
Kinsler said all he can do is keep working and trust that things will turn around for him. He's batting .239 on the season.
"He’s just got to weather the storm," Washington said. "We’ve just got to weather the storm. He’s on pace to score 100 runs, so he’s not doing too bad. I think people are tired of seeing him pop up, and it’s frustrating. But I don’t think anyone is more frustrated than Ian is. The way the game of baseball works, if Ian starts to put it together the last month and a half, everybody will forget about what they’re seeing now. So you’ve got to hang with him when he’s good, and you’ve got to hang with him when he’s bad."
At this point, Washington has given no indication of moving Kinsler out of the leadoff spot. He's content to see if his second baseman can work himself out of it. The manager notes Kinsler is still getting on base and scoring runs and he likes having Elvis Andrus in the No. 2 hole in his lineup. Kinsler has a .344 OBP (12 points higher than Andrus) and leads the club with 72 runs. He's also walked 61 times, which is the team leader by 30 walks. Mike Napoli is second.
It should be noted that Kinsler hasn't walked as much lately and his strikeout totals are up in the past week, too. But Washington looks at the track record and sees it more as an aberration.
To Kinsler's credit, he has not let his offense carry over to his defense. He continues to make great defensive plays at second base and leads the club in WAR (and a little over 4.0). He made another nice play on Thursday, ranging to his left to snag a hard grounder by Brennan Boesch to end the sixth.