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Thursday, June 6, 2013
Buzz: McGuiness to get most of starts at 1B

By Todd Wills

BOSTON -- The Rangers can use Lance Berkman, Jeff Baker and newcomer Chris McGuiness at first base while they wait for Mitch Moreland to return from the disabled list, which could be 15 days from Thursday, or maybe longer.

The left-handed hitting McGuiness, called up from Triple-A Round Rock, will get most of the starts while Moreland is out with a strained right hamstring, manager Ron Washington said. General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers are hopeful this will only be a two-week injury for Moreland.

In the meantime, it's all about McGuiness.

"McGuiness is going to get the majority of the time, the same time Moreland was getting," Washington said. "I'll pick and choose with him on lefties."

Berkman started Thursday's game against Boston at Fenway Park. McGuiness arrived at the ballpark about an hour before game time.

Washington said he will determine Friday who will get the start in Toronto against Blue Jays right-hander Esmil Rogers. The Rangers will see one left-hander against the Jays, quick worker and change-up man Mark Buehrle. That could mean a Baker or Berkman start.

The turf at Toronto will also factor into Washington's decisions. He said he'll do everything he can to keep Berkman and third baseman Adrian Beltre off the poor playing surface. Beltre will not play in the field during the series, which impacts how Berkman will be used at designated hitter.

"I hate the turf in Toronto," Washington said.

The Rangers want to give McGuiness every opportunity to play so it won't disrupt other parts of the team. Plus, Washington wants to avoid wear and tear on Berkman's surgically repaired knees, though he said he's not filling out his lineup card for the next two weeks to protect anyone.

McGuiness is batting .275 with six home runs and 34 RBIs with a .382 on-base percentage for Round Rock. The 25-year-old, acquired in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade with the Red Sox in 2010, will be making his major league debut.

Washington has only seen McGuiness play in person once this season -- in an exhibition game in San Antonio on March 30. McGuiness was a Rule 5 Draft pick by Cleveland in December and spent all of spring training with the Indians before being sent back to the Rangers on May 27.

"Chris is a good defender at first," Daniels said. "He gives you a good at-bat and he's earned the opportunity."

Baker, the Rangers' super utilityman, said he'll do whatever he can to help. He'll also play third base, as will Leury Garcia, this weekend in place of Beltre.

"I'm always prepared and ready for whatever we have to weather through," Baker said. "I hope we get Mitch, Kinsler and Adrian Beltre healthy. All of the guys are happy with the way we've battled through this."

Berkman said he's not concerned for now about his knees or playing first base, but he will have to see how he feels with each new day. When the Rangers signed Berkman as a free agent in the offseason, he said they didn't discuss how much he'd play in the field.

He played first base in one game against Arizona on May 25 and came out of it OK.

"It was fine," Berkman said.

The bigger concern for Berkman is his slump at the plate. He has one hit and six strikeouts in his last 16 at-bats.

"I'm not getting any hits," Berkman said. "It's a bad stretch."

Other notes:

Olt not an option yet: The Rangers decided against bringing up infielder Mike Olt, who made eight starts at first base last season.

Olt is just now seeing regular playing time after missing a month because of vision issues. He's 4-for-8 with a home run in two games for Triple-A Round Rock after playing in three games for Frisco, where he also had a homer.

“He’s recovered from the vision issue and is doing well," Daniels said. "He needs more at-bats to catch up, but reports are he hasn’t missed a beat.”

Cotts not concerned: Reliever Neal Cotts, who has taken on an important role in the Rangers' bullpen, said he's not concerned about walking three of the four batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings of Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Red Sox.

"I didn't miss by much," Cotts said. "I need to get in the strike zone and be more aggressive. It wasn't a good outing."

Cotts did pick up the win Wednesday, his first victory since July 1, 2006 with the Chicago White Sox. He has allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings since joining the Rangers on May 21.

Nathan dominates Sox: Joe Nathan has converted all 16 career save opportunities against the Red Sox after Wednesday's perfect inning. Boston is one of three American Leagues teams he hasn't blown a save against, along with Detroit (36-for-36) and Baltimore 10-for-10).

That doesn't mean they've all come as easy as Wednesday's when Nathan recorded three routine groundball outs to hang onto a 3-2 lead.

"This place is always tough, every time we're here," Nathan said. "Every time I'm out there it seems like it's a one-run game. This is a tough place to get three outs."