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Friday, July 25, 2014
Extra Bases: Tough test for struggling bats

By Calvin Watkins

The Texas Rangers come into this three-game series against the Athletics struggling at the plate.

In the just-completed seven-game road trip, Elvis Andrus, (6-for-30), Adrian Beltre (5-for-29) and Shin-Soo Choo (5-for-24) failed to produce on a consistent basis. Andrus ended an 0-for-12 slide with a bloop single Thursday against the Yankees.

“I can’t explain it,” Beltre said of the offense. “I don’t get frustrated, and I don’t think guys are pressing. Everybody is doing the best they can. Obviously, it’s not working. Some days we hit and some days we don’t, and we’re not doing it consistently enough.”

Facing Oakland won't make things any easier. Opponents are hitting just .223 over the last 16 games against the A's, who will send out two of their best starters -- Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, both of whom have ERAs under 3.00 -- against the Rangers.

Feliz ready to close: Neftali Feliz was re-anointed as the closer Tuesday after the Rangers traded Joakim Soria to the Tigers for two prospects. Feliz didn’t get an opportunity to close in the series finale against the Yankees, but the Rangers are confident he can secure the ninth inning on a consistent basis. Feliz has lost some velocity on his fastball since undergoing Tommy John surgery and, while he said he’s fully recovered, he’s turned into more of a pitcher than someone simply trying to overpower hitters.

“Obviously there’s an extra adrenaline and extra energy with being the closer,” Feliz said. “If they give you any opportunity in any role in that bullpen, I will do my best. Especially being that closer, there’s an extra energy and you have to do your job there, and you can’t do it in any other moment.”

Nadel award: The Rangers will not have radio play-by-play man Eric Nadel on the call. Nadel will be in Cooperstown, N.Y. to receive the 38th Ford C. Frick Award on Saturday.

No Maddux: Pitching coach Mike Maddux will miss the entire series to support his brother, Greg Maddux, a Rangers special assistant, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins will take over for Mike Maddux while he’s gone, and Brad Holman, Round Rock’s Triple-A pitching coach, will serve as bullpen coach.