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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Clubhouse notes: Kinsler, Feliz, Borbon

By Richard Durrett

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Manager Ron Washington is leaning toward giving Ian Kinsler a day off for Wednesday's afternoon affair with Oakland. But when Washington brought it up to Kinsler on the flight from Seattle to Oakland, the second baseman asked him to wait until after Tuesday's game before deciding.

"My intention is to give him a day off," Washington said. "But if he swings the bat tonight, it's going to be hard to fight him off. We'll just see how he does."

Washington simply wants to be sure he gives Kinsler some time here and there to give the ankle a rest, especially early in his return. If Kinsler doesn't get Wednesday off, Washington could decide to give him Sunday's day game against Kansas City off, which would actually give Kinsler two straight days with the off day on Monday.

Kinsler talked as he returned about how his range wasn't great at second base, but he you wouldn't have known it on Monday. He was able to go from his left and right and cover a lot of ground.

"I think his range will get better every day," Washington said. "That's something that will improve with each game."

Other notes:

* RHP Neftali Feliz pitched well in his second of a back-to-back outing. He threw eight pitches in Sunday's game in Seattle, so he wasn't coming off a lengthy outing before coming in with a runner at first and no outs in the ninth on Monday and getting the save. But he also didn't have a lengthy outing on the front end of his first foray into consecutive outings last week and that didn't go very well. So it was clear smoe progress was made.

"That's the mental side of it," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "We'll see how he does now that he's done it. But I would think he has to gain confidence from that."

Washington didn't rule out using Feliz in tonight's game.

"We'll see how he feels," Washington said. "We will close the game somehow. We could use Darren Oliver, Chris Ray, Darren O'Day. I'm comfortable with what we've got down there."

* Washington said catcher Max Ramirez is expected to play Wednesday.

* Maddux said more than anything to do with mechanics, it was Rich Harden's approach that made the biggest difference in Monday's outing.

"He threw strikes early and went after guys," Maddux said. "That was a huge difference. And there was probably a comfort level for him pitching here."

Harden got first-pitch strikes to the first 12 batters he faced. He ended up going seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. It was an impressive performance and a vast improvement over his first five starts.

* INF Joaquin Arias (stiff lower back) took batting practice on Tuesday and has worked in the field. He said his back has improved. "It's still a little sore, but I can do things," Arias said. "It's much better."

* RHP Chris Ray said he feels like he did in 2005-07 and that his confidence has grown. Ray has a 1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. "The thing is that now I have a two-seamer and that's something I didn't have before I got hurt," Ray said. "That's a pitch that helps me against lefties."

* Maddux took a few swings in the batting cages early on Tuesday as Clint Hurdle threw some BP. "It was a chance for me to embarrass myself," Maddux said. "I do it once a year."

* OF Julio Borbon will likely get a chance to play a lot coming up with so many righties coming up against the Rangers. But Washington said Borbon will get some opportunities agianst lefties. "I want to pick and choose which ones," Washington said. He noted that he didn't want Borbon going against lefties like Cliff Lee and Dallas Braden.

* Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez and his wife, Anne, are parents to a third child, Kian Joseph, born Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Dallas time. Vazquez will rejoin the Rangers when they return home.

* The Rangers' ERA is climbing in the ninth inning. They now have a 7.48 ERA (18 ER in 21.2 IP) in the ninth inning this season. Opponents are batting .333 with a .404 OBP and .632 slugging percentage. That includes two runs given up on Monday in the ninth inning by Frank Francisco in the Rangers' 4-2 win.