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Rangers alterations include catcher, rotation

5/20/2014

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There were no large cranes or bulldozers in sight at Globe Life Park on Tuesday. But that doesn't mean the Rangers weren't engaged in some serious reconstruction.

The Opening Day catcher was sent to Triple-A Round Rock and two members of the Opening Day rotation are returning to the bullpen. It's a continuation of alterations made the past few weeks, including calling up Rougned Odor at second base and manipulating the lineup, something the manager is normally hesitant to do.

J.P. Arencibia is headed to Triple-A Round Rock, and he wasn't surprised. A .133 batting average just wasn't going to cut it, and, as manager Ron Washington pointed out, it's difficult to get in a rhythm and improve when you don't play often. Robbie Ross had struggled with the big inning as he tried to make the transition from reliever to starter and the club has ended the experiment, at least for now. And Tanner Scheppers, still rehabbing from right elbow inflammation, will return to the bullpen when he's ready to go. He hopes that's near the end of the club's long upcoming road trip.

Those are fairly major changes -- and ones where the numbers dictate they're necessary -- for the club just shy of two months into the season. But with the Oakland A's racing out to a larger lead than expected, the Rangers know they need to begin to catch up now. There's still a lot of the season left.

"We're trying to move some pieces into positions where they can be successful," Washington said.

And into positions they know. Scheppers was a critical late-inning setup reliever for this team last year and the club is hoping he can reprise that role in 2014. Ross has been a reliever for much of his early Rangers' career and can give the team some multiple innings down there. Meanwhile, Nick Martinez has pitched well in his starting opportunities and Scott Baker, who starts Friday in Detroit, has plenty of experience as a starter.

Changing players and positions is only part of the remodeling of this team. Washington has altered his lineup too. Shin-Soo Choo, one of the club's most consistent offensive performers, is now in the 3-hole. That move was made when Prince Fielder went out with a stiff neck, but when Fielder was in the original lineup for Tuesday, Choo was still batting third. The manager may continue to tinker. Michael Choice, Leonys Martin and even Daniel Robertson will get some chances to lead off.

Washington has also flipped Fielder and Adrian Beltre between the cleanup spot depending on whether there's a right-handed or left-handed starter on the mound.

The upheaval is not only a response to the club's under .500 record so far this season, but also an attempt to get everyone where they make the most sense. Then, the club hopes each player will respond better and help them get on a roll.