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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Buzz: Berkman makes return at first base

By Todd Wills

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Lance Berkman is back in the Rangers' lineup Tuesday night after two days off. Berkman is playing first base, where he could start until Mitch Moreland returns Friday in St. Louis.

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Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss the magnitude of Monday's win against Oakland, how he plans on using Jurickson Profar and how to handle a struggling ballclub.

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Berkman, who has started three games at first base and 54 as the designated hitter, will be a "day-to-day" option until Moreland returns. First baseman Chris McGuiness was optioned back to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday.

The Rangers' other option at first base, Jeff Baker, was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13 with a sprained right thumb suffered when a high-five went wrong with an unidentified teammate.

Berkman was dropped out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup for the first time this season. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski is batting third while Berkman was dropped to fifth behind third baseman Adrian Beltre.

"I decided I was going to give Berkman less stress right now," manager Ron Washington said. Berkman is batting .192 in his last 21 games.

Washington said he'll make a daily call with Berkman at first base, and if he doesn't use him there, Robinson Chirinos, called up Tuesday, will get a game.

Triple-A Round Rock infielder Mike Olt was not discussed as an option at first base. General manager Jon Daniels said this weekend that Olt is where he needs to be right now as he works his way back from an early season funk and vision issues.

"We're trying to get Mike Olt comfortable," Washington said.

Andrus gets night off: Shortstop Elvis Andrus is the latest to get a day off as the Rangers try to get Jurickson Profar in the lineup. Andrus is 0-for-12 in the last three games and batting .167 the last 25 games.

"He's struggling," Washington said. "That's it."

Andrus said that his energy level could be off. He has played in a team-high 68 of the Rangers' 70 games. Beltre will be the club leader in games played if Andrus doesn't enter Tuesday's game.

"I have to take it," Andrus said of the day off. "My energy level, I don't feet like I'm doing it. I need to sit down and watch a game."

Tepesch will get another start: Struggling rookie starter Nick Tepesch will start Saturday at St. Louis despite a third straight poor start in Monday's 8-7 win over the A's.

Tepesch has allowed 17 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings in his last three starts. He lasted 3 2/3 innings Monday, allowing six runs in the fourth inning.

"He needs to start getting outs a little deeper in the ball game," Washington said. "That's what I want them all to do. He needs to starts executing a little better. He will."

Tepesch's downfall has been commanding his best pitch, his sinker. But he also made mistakes Monday with his slider and curve ball. He also has a changeup as an option, which he's used up to 10 times in a game this season, but he said his other pitches are better.

"You have your ups and downs," Tepesch said. "It's all about making better pitches."

Extra left in pen: Left-hander reliever Joseph Ortiz was one of two players recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday -- Chirinos is the other -- as the club wanted an extra southpaw available in the bullpen. The Oakland lineup is stocked with left-handed hitters -- there were seven of them in Monday's lineup -- and lefty relievers Robbie Ross and Neal Cotts have been pitching a lot.

Cotts tossed three 2 1/3 scoreless innings and picked up his third win in six appearances in Monday's 8-7 victory over Oakland. Ross has pitched 2 2/3 innings in the last three days.

No Perez yet: The Rangers haven't committed to giving left-handed starter Martin Perez another start in the big leagues even though he's 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his last four starts.

"He threw well again last night," said Washington, who didn't add anything further.

Perez could be an option soon with Tepesch and fellow rotation rookie Justin Grimm struggling, and Josh Lindblom just up from Triple-A Round Rock to fill in for the injured Alexi Ogando.