For now, if a left-hander is starting against the Rangers, expect Baker to be in left field or at first base. He has played himself into a starting role against lefties, batting .444 (8-for-18) against southpaws with three home runs and five RBIs. Baker has homered in two straight games for the fifth time in his career.
"If he keeps swinging the bat the way he's swinging, then of course," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You can expect it. That's what he's here for."
Baker has been the surprise for the Rangers' offense, helping to balance out a lineup stacked at the bottom with left-handed hitters. His emergence allowed Washington to use Baker for two starts at first base while Mitch Moreland was struggling against lefties.
Moreland is hitting everything how -- .batting .395 for his last 10 games -- while it's left fielder David Murphy that has slumped against righties and lefties, hitting .174 for the season. Murphy sat for a third straight game Thursday, unusual for a regular in Washington's lineup. Murphy was scheduled to start and Baker to sit if Peavy wasn't scratched before the game due to back spasms.
Washington said he will find a spot for Baker against lefties, not just in place of Murphy.
"It's not a platoon," Washington said. "(Baker) is going to play. Right now we've hit a string of left-handers and he's swinging the bat. So is Moreland."
Baker, who isn't yet 100 percent after suffering a bruised knee last week on a sliding catch in Anaheim, was replaced for defense after the sixth inning of Wednesday's 5-2 loss. The game was tied 2-2 at the time and Washington subbed in Murphy for defensive purposes with Baker not slated to bat again until the eighth inning.
Baker said he felt fine to stay in the game. "I'm progressing well," he said. "I'm good. I'm going to be ready to play when I get the chance."
Other Rangers notes for Thursday:
Frasor aims for comfort: Reliever Jason Frasor has six consecutive shutout innings over eight appearances. More importantly, he hasn't been scored on in his last three outings at Rangers Ballpark.
Frasor, signed as a free agent in January, had a career 8.24 ERA in 21 games in Arlington, mostly with Toronto, before arriving in Texas. He retired all four batters he faced in Wednesday's 5-2 loss, getting two strikeouts.
"It's a good thing," Frasor said. "Honestly I don't know that I've ever felt comfortable pitching in this stadium, but I hope the more I get out there that I'll be comfortable. I felt good."
Olt needs more tests: Triple-A infielder Mike Olt will see an eye specialist next after an eye doctor he saw didn't see anything out of the ordinary. The Rangers are in the process of setting up an appointment with the a specialist. Olt, who is batting .139, informed the club he was having vision issues earlier this week.
Pierzynski was ready: Washington wanted to get catcher A.J. Pierzynski (sore oblique) an at-bat Wednesday night as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning to get some swings heading into Thursday's start. He especially wanted Pierzynski to hit as the tying run down 5-2 with a chance to tie the game with a three-run home run.
That didn't happen, but it explains why Pierzynski was at the plate when he was hit on the elbow by a pitch by White Sox closer Addison Reed.
"He was ready to go so even if we had tied the game up he could have caught," Washington said.
Rangers announce 2013 grant program: The Rangers Baseball Foundation announced details of its 2013 grant program designed to assist youth baseball and softball programs in the club's five-state broadcasting region.
It's the second consecutive year for the project. Starting Thursday, the Rangers Foundation began accepting proposals for grant from non-profit organizations that specifically support youth baseball or softball in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas.
The Foundation awarded seven grants in 2012: Paris Breakfast Optimist Club, Boys and Girls Clubs of Denison, East Wilco Challenger Sports, Battiest Baseball Team sponsored by Battiest Public School, RBI Austin, Arlington Girls Softball Association and Azle Little League.
The Rangers are assisted by the team’s broadcasting partners, Fox Sports Southwest, TXA21, and ESPN 103.3 FM and the Rangers ESPN Radio Network in promoting the grant program.