'Godsend' Kouzmanoff gets his due
April, 21, 2014
By Eric Gilmore | Special to ESPNDallas.com
Tom Pennington/Getty Images"I don't know where we'd be without him," Ron Washington said of Kevin Kouzmanoff.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- When the Texas Rangers called up third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff from Triple-A Round Rock, they hoped he'd be a solid fill-in for the injured Adrian Beltre.
No one saw this coming.
Kouzmanoff was named the American League Player of the Week on Monday after putting up some stunning numbers over a seven-game span.
Kouzmanoff batted .345 (10-for-29) with two home runs, four doubles and eight RBIs last week. Only two Rangers received the award last season: Beltre (July 7) and outfielder Alex Rios (Sept. 29).
"He's been a godsend to take over for Beltre and do what he's done in his absence," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Kouzmanoff before Monday night's game against the Oakland Athletics. "I don't know where we'd be without him."
Kouzmanoff is a .257 career hitter with 87 home runs in 683 games. He's on his fifth major league team and hadn't played in the big leagues since 2011 with the Colorado Rockies before being called up by Texas. In 11 games with the Rangers, Kouzmanoff is batting .366 with five doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs.
"It feels good to come back and have an impact," Kouzmanoff said. "I feel like we've been on a good stretch, but it's not only me. It's my teammates around me. I think we've been putting it together lately as a team, we've been stringing hits together, we've been pitching well, we've been playing defense, all those things. When we do them well we win ballgames."
Kouzmanoff hit a career-high 23 home runs with 84 RBIs in 2008 with the San Diego Padres. He had 18 homers and a career-high 88 RBIs the next year with San Diego. In 2010, he had 16 home runs and 71 RBIs with the A's, who traded him during the 2011 season to Colorado.
Kouzmanoff said he "thought it was pretty cool" when heard he had won the AL Player of the Week award.
"I've been getting good pitches to hit and I've been hitting them hard. Sometimes you don't hit those and other times you do," Kouzmanoff said. "It's just been a good week. It feels good and it feels good to be recognized for it."
Oakland homecoming: Rangers outfielder Michael Choice will be in the lineup Tuesday night against Oakland and start against his former team for the first time since being traded to Texas in December, Washington said. Choice has been getting consistent playing time against left-handers, and A's lefty Tommy Milone is scheduled to start.
"There's always going to be that first memory of where I broke into the big leagues," Choice said. "It will be interesting to be on the other side."
Choice is batting .200 (5-for-25) with one home run and three RBIs in 14 games. He's had to adjust to being a part-time player after playing every day in the minor leagues and his entire amateur career.
"I feel OK," Choice said. "I feel like I'm starting to get adjusted to the role better and better each day. Obviously the natural instinct for anybody is to want to be out there, but I just have to prepare every day to make sure I'm ready whenever I go in."
Washington said he didn't know whether Choice would start at designated hitter or in the outfield -- he has started at all three spots there.
The A's drafted Choice with the 10th overall pick in 2010 out of the University of Texas-Arlington. He made his major league debut last season with Oakland, hitting .278 with one double in nine games.
The A's traded Choice and infielder Chris Bostick to Texas for outfielder Craig Gentry and right-hander Josh Lindblom on Dec. 3.
Choice said he has no hard feelings over being traded. The A's, after all, sent him to his hometown team.
"I look at it as a good thing for me," Choice said. "Being able to play for the team I grew up watching is definitely more enjoyable."
Harrison watch: Left-hander Matt Harrison said he feels ready to come off the disabled list and rejoin the rotation, but the Rangers want to wait at least one more day to make that decision, according to Washington.
Harrison, who underwent surgery in April 2013 to repair a herniated disk in his lower back, allowed just three hits over eight innings with one walk and five strikeouts in a rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday. He's with the Rangers for their road trip so that pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins can see first-hand how he recovers from his latest start.
Harrison was scheduled to throw short bullpen sessions Monday and Tuesday. After that, the Rangers will likely decide whether to slot him into the rotation or have him make another rehab start, Washington said.
"They're happy that I was able to turn things around and go out and pitch like I was supposed to," Harrison said. "They said see how you recover and be here with the guys and be in front of Mike and Hawk. ... See how I recover in front of their eyes and go from there."
Harrison hasn't started a game since April 6, 2013, against the Angels, but he said he feels ready to make his return.
"I feel like I'm there," Harrison said.
Return to sender: Infielder Andy Parrino, who was designated for assignment Friday, was claimed off waivers by Oakland on Monday and sent to Triple-A Sacramento. The Rangers claimed Parrino off waivers from the A's on March 3, then optioned him to Triple-A Round Rock. He hit .189 with three doubles and five RBIs in 13 games with Round Rock before being designated for assignment April 18.