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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Jake Smolinski makes first start

By Randy Jennings
Special to ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jake Smolinski draws his first major league start as a Rangers left-fielder tonight when Texas tries to rebound against Houston at Globe Life Park.

Smolinski made his big league debut in Monday’s 12-7 loss to Houston, coming on in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter. He stayed in the game and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a grounder to first.

The 25-year-old Illinois native played 72 games for Double-A Frisco and eight games with Triple-A Round Rock this season before receiving word of his promotion.

“I’ve stayed healthy this year,’’ said Smolinski, a .267 hitter in the minors this season. “That’s been a difficulty for the guys on the Rangers.’’

Just climbing to Triple-A would have made the season special, Smolinski said. “I really didn’t have any goals this year as to what level I played. I just want to continue to get better. So much of it is out of your control.’’

A spot opened for Smolinski when the Rangers optioned Michael Choice to Round Rock.

Said Smolinski: “I guess I wasn’t expecting it, but that is what I’ve worked for daily. I’m still at a loss for words. Exited and speechless.’’

Choo at DH again: Shin-Soo Choo is the Rangers designated hitter for the second consecutive game and for the 27th time this season.

Washington often uses the designated hitter slot to give players a half-day off from defensive duty.

“He played a lot of games in the outfield on the road trip and I wanted to give him a break,’’ the manager said. “We want to help him any way we can.
“He’ll probably be out there tomorrow.’’

Vendors’ delight: Monday night’s 12-7 loss to the Astros took 3 hours, 48 minutes. It comes on the heels of Friday’s 6-5 loss to the Mets that required 4:08. Only one nine-inning game this season has taken longer to complete. Since July 2, Rangers games have averaged 3:29.

Notes: When Phil Irwin throws his first pitch tonight, he will become the 1000th to play for the Washington Senators-Texas Rangers franchise and the club’s 12th different starting pitcher this season. … With the signing of outfielder Darius Day, the Rangers’ selection in the 23rd round of the draft, 27 of the 40 selections are now under contract. … Jim Adduci, out for 72 games with a fractured left little finger, plans to take batting practice off a machine on Thursday and Friday.