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Sunday, July 14, 2013
Rangers persevere through a grip of injuries

By Chuck Pleiness
Special to ESPNDallas.com

DETROIT -- Injuries are part of the game.

But what the Texas Rangers have had to go through almost seems unfair.

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Jim Bowden joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon for his weekly visit to discuss how the Rangers are handling Yu Darvish heading into the All-Star break, the holes on their roster and an intriguing trade proposal that would bring Giancarlo Stanton to Texas.

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Seven of their pitchers are on the disabled list, along with two outfielders and a designated hitter.

And still, the Rangers find themselves in second place in the American League West division and tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for first in the race for the wild card.

“We’ve got warriors in our clubhouse,” Texas manager Ron Washington said after the Rangers’ 5-0 loss Sunday afternoon to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. “We certainly didn’t let adversity that was hitting us in the first half bother us. We just came every day and tried to put our best foot forward and play the best baseball we could. I think they did that. I’m very proud of them.”

Texas heads into the All-Star break 13 games over .500.

“There are still a lot of teams that are behind us through all of that,” Washington said. “It just shows the character of those guys in the clubhouse. We infused a lot of youth, we did a lot of teaching this first half and we’ve seen a lot of improvement. We just have to get healthy and get some of our pitchers back.

“At the trading deadline, we’ll do what we have to do to strengthen ourselves,” Washington continued. “There’s still a lot of good baseball ahead. These four days couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m proud of how we withstood everything. We took some punches, but we got right back up and kept fighting. That’s what the game of baseball is all about: fight to the last out of every game.”

One of those players that will soon be back is outfielder Jeff Baker, who has been sidelined with a right thumb sprain. He'll make a rehab start for the Rangers’ Triple-A team in Frisco, Texas.

“This has been pretty impressive,” Baker said of the Rangers’ first half of the season. “I think guys in the room are proud of the fact that it’s more than just 25 guys contributing.

“We’ve had some young guys come up and cut their teeth and give us some good starts and play well for us,” Baker continued. “We get some key guys healthy and get some people back in the second half, on top of the experience the younger players have and the depth that we’ve shown. I think we’re in a good spot to make a run and be where we need to be.”

Baker was with the Chicago Cubs during a season in which they lost two of their five starters in the first 10 days and could never recover.

“That crippled us for the whole season,” Baker recalled. “With the lack of starting pitching, literally, we were done. You see it here, we’ve had a lot of guys go down in the starting rotation, but we’ve plugged guys in, and we’re not really missing a whole lot.”

Washington’s first-half highlights: Washington’s top performers of the first half of the season included Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, A.J. Pierzynski and his young pitching staff.

“We’ve had some rough times, but we’re about to enter the second half and look at where we are,” Washington said. “They’ve played a big role in it, although they may have had to go through some growing pains.

“It’s a good group out there,” Washington added. “I don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the way, but they’ve certainly shown the world what they’re made of after all that we’ve gone through. They have not let anything bother them.”