Friday, June 27, 2014
Choo back in leadoff spot; Pena bats third
By Randy Jennings
Special to ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Shin-Soo Choo returns to the leadoff spot when the Rangers host the Minnesota Twins tonight at Globe Life Park.
The left fielder, a fixture at the top of the batting order for the opening two months of the season, has hit from the third spot in each of the last 17 games and 23 overall. Choo last led off for the Rangers in a 6-4 win over Cleveland on June 6.
Choo’s move to third was in response to middle-of-the-order holes caused by injuries to Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland. Choo is mired in a 11-for-79 slump (.139 batting average) in June, fourth lowest in the league.
Recent addition Carlos Pena moves to the third spot in the order tonight. The veteran first baseman batted sixth in his first three games with the club after a Tuesday promotion and is 2-for-11 with a home run.
The Rangers have lost eight straight, their longest skid since 2005, and are averaging just 2.9 runs per game in that span. Texas hasn’t lost nine in a row since 2003.
“I thought we needed to change things up a bit," Rangers manager Ron Washington said before the game. “We’ll see what happens."
Thanks to an ability to wait out walks, Choo’s on-base percentage is .367 despite a batting average of .243.
Choo has been bothered by soreness from a lingering left ankle sprain that caused him to miss five games in late April.
Adduci on the mend: Jim Adduci took extra fielding practice at first base today. Adduci has missed 61 games with a fractured little finger on his left hand. He subsequently re-injured the finger and underwent surgery last month.
“I can do running and fielding, but I still can’t grip a bat," said Adduci, who was sporting a splint connecting his fourth and fifth finger.
Part of the reason for fielding practice, he said, was adjusting to the splint. Adduci said he is working to get “a hook." Translated, he needs to be able to curl his finger around the bat before he begins the final phase of his recovery.
Long, long relief: Scott Baker was a bright spot in the Rangers’ otherwise forgettable 6-0 loss to the Tigers on Thursday. Baker, the long man in the bullpen, worked 6 2/3 innings in relief of Nick Martinez and was charged with only two runs. He became only the fourth Rangers reliever to go 6 2/3 innings or longer in the last 18 seasons.
Notes: Rangers players completed All-Star balloting before tonight’s game. And just to make sure the voting remained confidential, individual ballots are sealed before being collected. … Outfielder Engel Beltre began an injury assignment Thursday night with Round Rock and went 0-for-4 with an RBI. Beltre has been on the disabled list all season recovering from a fractured right fibia. … Brad Snyder, a fill-in at first base for eight games in June, has declined an outright assignment to AAA Round Rock, opting to become a free agent.