PHOENIX -- While the Texas Rangers' offense has left behind the struggles they experienced during the early part of the spring schedule, Thursday will offer the first look at the expected top half of the regular-season batting order.
Because of injuries, World Baseball Classic commitments and scheduled days off, the matchup against the Oakland A's provides the first glimpse of what will likely be the top portion of the 2013 lineup. The Rangers are reshaping their batting order following the loss of three key contributors from last season.
David Murphy is batting fifth, as he will at times during the regular season when matchups dictate he swap spots in the order with Nelson Cruz, who remains with his Dominican Republic teammates at the WBC.
Andrus also participated in the WBC (Venezuela), and Berkman and Beltre both missed games early on with calf issues.
Other game notes:
Infielder Jurickson Profar was scheduled to leave camp this morning and join his Netherlands teammates for the championship round of the World Baseball Classic. Profar did not participate in the first two rounds, but he will serve as an injury replacement. Team Netherlands has two exhibitions in Peoria, Ariz., tonight against San Diego and against Seattle on Friday before resuming its WBC schedule Monday in San Francisco.
Rangers teammates Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic) and Derek Holland (USA) will be in opposite dugouts tonight when their teams meet in a WBC semifinal game.
Derek Lowe is scheduled to start Friday's game against San Francisco and is slated to pitch two innings. The outing will mark Lowe's debut in a Rangers uniform after signing a minor-league contract with the team on March 6.
Mitch Moreland has hit in six of the last seven games. He is 9-for-20 during that stretch, raising his batting average from .143 to a spring-high .370.
Lance Berkman has eight walks, tying him for most in the majors this spring with four other players -- despite playing in just nine of the Rangers' 18 games.
Minor league games began today in Surprise with Triple-A and Double-A teams playing on the Kansas City Royals' fields and Hi-A and Lo-A teams playing on the Rangers' side of the Surprise Recreation Campus. Three pitchers from major-league camp are slated to appear in games: Joe Nathan, Evan Meek and Jason Frasor.
The Rangers have won four of their last five and are 6-1-1 in their last eight games. Overall, the Rangers are 8-3-1 after opening the spring with a six-game winless streak (0-5-1). The Rangers are 3-0-1 in its last four road games.
Thursday marks the second of two meetings between Texas and Oakland this spring. The Rangers won the first matchup, 5-3, on Saturday at Surprise Stadium.