Texas Rangers: Engel Beltre
Essentially, the Rangers are trading the speed and defense of Gentry, who just turned 30 (admit it, you didn't think he was that old), for the power and upside that a raw Michael Choice possesses. The Oakland A's add a player who, frankly, could annoy the Rangers the next few years like so many A's do. Gentry has hit for a decent average, albeit in a platoon role, and once he gets on base, he makes things happen. He's scrappy and aggressive and a good clubhouse guy. It makes the A's better.
The play of Leonys Martin also makes Gentry expendable. He was not an everyday player in Texas, and the Rangers believe Martin has shown that he can be. Without feeling that way about Martin, perhaps the club is more hesitant to part with Gentry. Engel Beltre also factors into this deal. He is out of options and can now be on the roster as that guy who can go in for defensive purposes or give you some speed on the bases. And Beltre is 24.
This deal does not mean the Rangers will simply head off to Disney World next week and ride some rides rather than talk to teams and agents at the winter meetings. This doesn't have to take them out of the market for a proven outfield bat. But it also buys them some time. They have a hitter they can insert in left field and see how it goes, if they want to. They can also survey the market and not feel rushed about making a deal. If they want to go after a big name, they can. But as general manager Jon Daniels said, they don't have to.
Does Choice answer all of the Rangers' questions in the outfield? No. But they are closer to an answer now than they were 24 hours ago. Texas likes to give young players who it feels are ready for big league duty a chance to do that. Choice will have to earn his spot, but he'll be given every opportunity to do so. This isn't someone the club acquired to be a fourth outfielder in the years to come. If the Rangers get a Shin-Soo Choo, for instance, then Choice might spend this season platooning if he makes the club out of spring training. But he might get a chance to play every day in 2014. In other words: The trade gives Texas some options.
I see where both teams are coming from on this one. The A's get speed, defense and a player motivated to show he deserves more playing time. The Rangers get someone with power potential at the upper levels, something they have in the lower levels of the minors, but not close enough to push for a big league spot.
I'm not forgetting about Josh Lindblom or Chris Bostick. But this deal is more about what the two outfielders do for each club. It should be interesting to watch.
It's another indicator that Daniels doesn't mind dealing within the division. He was asked about that on a conference call Tuesday and said he's a little more hesitant as opposed to a trade that isn't in the AL West, but he won't let that stop him.
"I think you always try to understand what the other team is trying to accomplish, but biggest thing is getting what you feel fits with your club," Daniels said.
The Rangers feel that they did that. I'm sure the A's do, too. We'll see what happens and how it all plays out.
Of course, there are plenty of former Ranger players on the ballot, too. That includes left-handed pitcher Kenny Rogers and power-hitters Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, who are hurt by their connections to PEDs. Eric Gagne, who pitched for the club in 2007 and was traded to Boston in the deal that brought Engel Beltre and David Murphy (along with Kason Gabbard), is also on the ballot.
There are about 600 voters this year. To cast a ballot, you must have been a Baseball Writers' Association of America member for 10 consecutive years. Ballots must be in by the end of the year and the results will be announced Jan. 8.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Adrian Beltre is struggling. David Murphy is back in the lineup. And Lance Berkman is nowhere to be found.
That's where the Rangers' offense stands after a 1-0 loss to Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
In Ron Washington's weekly radio appearance Tuesday on Fitzsimmons & Durrett on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, the Rangers' manager said the same thing that led to a September collapse last season is the big reason why his team is 3-7 in its last 10 games.
The Rangers can't score runs.
"The fact is the same thing that is eating at us right now was the reason why we didn't finish up real well last year," Washington said. "We can't drive a run in. Right now, that's the same thing that is eating at us. We can't drive in a run right now. You hate for that to happen right now."
The Rangers are averaging 2.9 runs per game in this 10-game stretch. They're hitting .171 with runners in scoring position. They had only two such chances Monday night and didn't score.
An offensive resurgence will have to start with Beltre, who grounded out to shortstop with runners at second and third in the Rangers' best scoring chance in the sixth inning. Beltre takes a 2-for-23 skid into Tuesday's game against Pirates starter Francisco Liriano.
"(Adrian's) being challenged," Washington said Tuesday on Fitzsimmons & Durrett. "He's always been a guy who can rise to the challenge. And he will. I'm certain of that."
Washington said that Murphy, who has been in a season-long slump, will get most of the starts in left field while Jim Adduci deals with a right biceps strain. Adduci is day-to-day.
Engel Beltre and Joey Butler, both September call-ups, also could play in left field. Look for Craig Gentry or Butler to be in left field Tuesday against Liriano, a lefty.
One bat the Rangers could set free is Berkman.
Berkman had quality at-bats in two games last week in Oakland and hasn't played since then. He should have had a sacrifice fly on a ball Beltre failed to tag up on in Monday's game against the A's, which of course would have driven in a run.
Washington said Tuesday on Fitzsimmons & Durrett that Berkman hasn't played enough baseball and was a little sore a couple of days ago. Berkman said Monday that he can play, even though he probably needs a string of games to get his bat going.
"I certainly can't sit here and give you a timetable of when Lance will play," Washington said. "We have some guys out there right now who can help us win ballgames."
Still, this is Lance Berkman we're talking about. Lance Berkman. One of the best hitters of his generation is collecting dust on the Rangers' bench.
Since the Rangers will see four right-handers starting Wednesday with the Pirates' A.J. Burnett, why not give Berkman a chance? He can't do any worse than the rest of the roster.
Whoever is out there, the Rangers have to hit to catch the A's in the AL West.
"If we can ever get back to driving a run in, we'll get back to moving forward," Washington said.
Feliz is one of four players within the organization expected to be added Sunday when rosters are expanded for the final month of the season. Designated hitter Lance Berkman and pitchers Nick Tepesch and Michael Kirkman also are expected to be activated off the disabled list.
Feliz said Saturday that it's taken a lot of patience, being stuck in the hot summer in Arizona and then spending a month rehabbing with Triple-A Round Rock. He feels he's close to his old self after not allowing a run in 8⅔ innings for Triple-A Round Rock.
"I'm about 95 to 97 percent," Feliz said. "The more I throw the better I feel."
Joakim Soria, who has become an important member of the Rangers' bullpen after recovering from Tommy John surgery, helped Feliz during the tough times.
"He said, 'Don't be afraid,'" Feliz said.
The Rangers have had good reports on Feliz, from his command and velocity to his changeup. General manager Jon Daniels said Friday that Feliz has been more focused on pitching than trying to light up the radar gun.
"I'm trying to keep my pitches down," Feliz said. "Breaking ball and fastball down."
Look for Tepesch to join the bullpen after being on the disabled list since July 6 with right elbow inflammation. That plan is subject to change depending on current fifth starter Travis Blackley's performance and matchups.
"Don't be surprised if you see [Tepesch] start," manager Ron Washington said.
Tepesch pitched four scoreless innings for Double-A Frisco on Friday, allowing four hits and walking one. He threw 59 pitches.
Left-hander Michael Kirkman allowed five runs in 5⅓ innings and threw 100 pitches in a start for Round Rock on Friday.
Who else is coming?: The Rangers are expected to add several more players to their expanded roster after Round Rock's season is over on Monday.
Right-hander Ross Wolf, catcher Robinson Chirinos and outfielder Jim Adduci will be added. Another outfielder, Engel Beltre, could join the club.
Adduci has been on a tear over the past month, batting .483 for August with a .465 on-base percentage. He's also a good runner who will help in pinch-running situations.
Darvish must push on: Rangers ace Yu Darvish has lost a two-run lead on home runs his past two starts against the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
That's two starts in a row in which an American League bottom-dweller has gotten Darvish. Washington will continue to go with Darvish deep into games. It's up to his ace to push through tough situations, he said.
"He has to figure out a way to get through it," Washington said. "No way [will he pull Darvish early]. He's a bona fide pitcher. It's random. He's never had issues getting through a ballgame in his career. He's going to have to figure it out."
Ogando needs another pen: Alexi Ogando threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday and said he'll need one more before he's ready to be activated from the disabled list.
Ogando has been out for two weeks with inflammation in his right elbow. No decision has been made on whether Ogando will start or come out of the bullpen.
"I don't know what the plan is for me," Ogando said. "It's their decision."
Short hops: Class A Hickory third baseman Joey Gallo had his second three-home run game this season on Friday night, giving him 38 long balls on the season The Rangers entered the final day of August with 38 stolen bases, their fourth-highest monthly total in club history. The record is 42 from June 1978.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- All that fretting over what would happen to the Texas Rangers' offense when Nelson Cruz was lost because of his suspension proved to be wasted energy.
The Rangers are averaging a major league-best 6.6 runs per game since Cruz, who was leading the team in home runs and RBIs, was suspended Aug. 5 for being linked to the Biogenesis clinic. Repeat that, best in baseball, by half a run over Arizona.
"If Nelson was in that lineup, I think the same thing would have happened," manager Ron Washington said. "I really do. Maybe more because he probably would have produced some of those runs. But the way things set up and got going, the game presented that to us and we rose to the occasion."
The Rangers' blueprint for offense has changed. That's well-documented. But it becomes clearer when analyzing the numbers.
They are third in the majors with a .402 on-base percentage (Cruz had a .330 OBP). They are also third in walk rate with 10.2 bases on balls per nine innings.
Cruz has been missed from a power standpoint. The Rangers have hit six home runs in 13 games, tied for the least in the league.
But it hasn't mattered. The Rangers have scored 15 and 16 runs in two of their past three games on just one home run. They had an 11-run inning in Monday's 16-5 victory.
They have 24 stolen bases with the top two hitters in the lineup, Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus, combining for 15 of them.
"That's how you can become consistent," Washington said. "A.J. Pierzynski says sometimes the home run can stop momentum. So if guys can go up there and put the ball in play and find a hole and go from first to third, that's the kind of baseball we want to play."
Waking up Pierzynski: Twice on Monday night, the Astros intentionally walked Adrian Beltre to get to Pierzynski. Houston paid for it the second time.
Pierzynski ripped a two-run single in the third inning for a 4-1 lead, igniting an 11-run inning. He also had another RBI single in the inning and the Rangers' first home run in 46 innings later in the game.
"All you're doing is waking up a sleeping dog," Washington said. "If you want to walk Beltre, then wake up Pierzynski."
Piezynski has 15 RBIs in August. He has nine hits in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That's producing in the clutch.
Pierzynski had a season-high four hits Monday, the most by a Rangers catcher since Mike Napoli in 2011. It was the first four-hit game by a Ranger since Cruz did it July 13 in Detroit.
No move anticipated: The Rangers will continue to look at the trade market with Houston's Erik Bedard and Washington's Dan Haren among starting pitchers who have cleared waivers, but don't look for a move to be made.
Texas appears ready to go with Travis Blackley and Alexi Ogando when he comes off the disabled list to fill in as the No. 5 starter.
“I am comfortable with what we’ve got, always looking around but I don’t anticipate anything,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “There are a few guys who have cleared waivers but I’m not optimistic that there’s going to be the right fit between somebody we have interest in that is truly available at a price we think is worth it. So we are fully expecting to go with this group, and I don’t mean that in a negative way -- we like our team.”
Following the plan: Washington said his players executed a handful of plays that weren't called from the dugout Monday night, and he's OK with that.
Washington said he didn't have a hit-and-run on when Andrus ripped a single through the right side of the infield in the first inning. Martin has the green light to run and Andrus was swinging if the pitch was a strike.
"They might have had a plan," Washington said. "It looked like he was certainly trying to hit the hole."
Second baseman Ian Kinsler also bunted on his own with two on in the third inning, getting credit for a sacrifice bunt to move Martin and Andrus to second and third. It gave the Astros a chance to walk Beltre with first base open, and Pierzynski made them pay.
"I don't see anything wrong with those two issues right there," Washington said. "I love the hit-and-run. When I put it on, they don't execute. If they can put and execute it, I'm all good with it. That's the type of baseball I like to play."
Short hops: Beltre is batting .422 since Cruz was suspended Aug. 5. Beltre, who was in the lineup as the DH on Tuesday, is batting .400 for the month. ... Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Monday night, throwing 17 pitches. Feliz may be in line to throw two innings in his next outing, and Daniels said the target is for him to be ready Sept. 1. ... Daniels also said DH Lance Berkman will return Sept. 1 barring an injury. ... Triple-A Round Rock had 21 hits in a 20-2 victory over Nashville on Monday night. Outfielder Engel Beltre, a likely September call-up for the Rangers, was 4-for-7 with a grand slam and five RBIs. Left fielder Aaron Cunningham hit two homers and also had five RBIs. ... Low A Hickory outfielder Lewis Brinson had a go-ahead two-run home run in the ninth inning Monday for a 5-3 victory for the Crawdads. Brinson, the 29th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Entry Draft, is the first player with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in Hickory franchise history.
HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers rallied again in the top of the eighth, scoring two runs and then holding on for a 5-4 victory over the struggling Houston Astros on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Rangers moved into first place all alone for the first time since July 1, a game ahead of Oakland. The Rangers improved to 67-50, the most they've been over .500 all season.
Rangers capitalize: The Rangers took advantage of two crucial mistakes by the Astros in the top of the eighth. After A.J. Pierzynski's one-out double, Alex Rios hit a sinking line drive to center field that was falling in for a hit. Houston's Brandon Barnes made matters worse by diving for the ball and letting it roll past him. Pinch runner Engel Beltre scored easily to tie the game as Rios made it all the way to third. Then, with the infield in, Mitch Moreland hit a sharp ground ball to second base. Rios broke for home, and it appeared he would be out, but Astros catcher Jason Castro dropped the ball as Rios slid into him. Rios scored for a 5-4 lead.
Soria dodges trouble: Joakim Soria was handed setup duties in the bottom of the eighth. He got through it. After two quick outs, Soria allowed an infield single to Matt Dominguez and then walked Brett Wallace. Soria bounced back against Barnes, getting to a 2-2 count and throwing a slider for a swinging strike to hang onto the lead.
Andrus goes deep: Shortstop Elvis Andrus picked the perfect time to hit his first home run since Sept. 4, 2012. Andrus cranked a two-run home run with two outs in the top of the seventh off Astros reliever Kevin Chapman to tie the game at three. It was Andrus' first home run in 558 at-bats. He had gone 452 at-bats to start the season without a long ball, the most in the major leagues.
Not tied for long: The Rangers had a messy bottom of the seventh as the Astros regained the lead at 4-3. With a runner at second with two outs, reliever Jason Frasor walked L.J. Hoes and Barnes stole third. Then with a 1-2 count to Jose Altuve, Frasor threw a wild pitch that deflected off Pierzynski's shin guard and allowed Barnes to score.
Missed chances: The Rangers have excelled of late with a runner at third and less then two outs, but not on Saturday night. First, Andrus struck out with runners at second and third and one out in the top of the third. Ian Kinsler popped out to first to end the inning to keep the game scoreless. The Rangers trailed 1-0 in the top of the fourth and loaded the bases with one out. But Jurickson Profar, who drew a bases-loaded walk for the lead Friday night, struck out, and David Murphy flew out to left to end the inning.
Holland fights through: Derek Holland didn't have his best stuff of the season, but he still managed to keep the Rangers in the game, departing with Texas trailing 3-1. He allowed three runs in six innings. Holland gave up six hits, including a home run to Chris Carter. Holland loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth and gave up only one run before inducing a double-play ball to get out of the inning.
Up next: The Rangers and Astros play the first of two day games to finish off the series, with left-hander Martin Perez (4-3, 3.81 ERA) facing left-hander Dallas Keuchel (5-6, 4.96) at 1:10 p.m. Sunday afternoon on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. In Monday's series finale, Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish (11-5, 2.72) takes on left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (2-0, 2.53) at 1:10 p.m.
|Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss Nelson Cruz accepting his 50-game suspension for using PEDs. |
CF Leonys Martin
SS Elvis Andrus
DH Ian Kinsler
3B Adrian Beltre
C A.J. Pierzynski
RF David Murphy
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Jurickson Profar
LF Engel Beltre
LHP Martin Perez
RF Collin Cowgill
CF Mike Trout
2B Howie Kendrick
1B Mark Trumbo
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Erick Aybar
3B Chris Nelson
C Chris Iannetta
DH J.B. Shuck
RHP Jerome Williams
|Fitzsimmons and Durrett react to Nelson Cruz's suspension and discuss the impact his absence will have on the Rangers' lineup, what players need to step up and the team's playoff hopes. |
Can the same happen for Butler, who is batting .291 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs for the Express?
"Nelson had a lot more talent than Joey had," Triple-A Round Rock Bobby Jones said on the phone from Sacramento on Monday. Jones was Cruz's manager at Oklahoma City for five years.
"Joey has to work on all parts of his game," Jones said. "He's done that work and thank God he got this opportunity. I love the kid. He has flaws. He chases pitches out of the strike zone. Maybe this will fire him up and he'll become a better player."
Butler's hitting coach at Round Rock, Scott Coolbaugh, said the Rangers have a player who potentially could be able to handle a platoon situation against left-handed pitching. Butler is batting .321 against lefties with a .532 slugging percentage.
"He's always been a kid that been better against left-handers than right," Coolbaugh said. "He becomes vulnerable to certain pitches from the right side. He's going to be able to handle himself against left-handed pitching. It's a matter of how much of an opportunity he's going to get it and what kind of start he gets off to."
Both Jones and Coolbaugh said Butler is a below average outfielder who can take bad routes, but will catch the ball if he gets to it. Sounds like the player Butler will help replace -- Cruz.
One thing is for sure, Jones said. Like Engel Beltre -- who was called back up after seeing some time with the Rangers this season -- Butler is a good teammate who will bring energy to the big league club.
"He's a good teammate," Jones said. "He's always upbeat and positive and has a smile on his face. He should bring a little life in there and liven things up. He's a good kid to have around."
Jones said he was disappointed to see Cruz admit to an "error in judgment" as the slugger put it Monday in a statement by violating Major League Baseball's drug program.
"It's a shame," Jones said. "I don't know the extent of it. He has always loved to play, worked hard and been a great teammate. I never thought he'd be involved in this."
If that happens, then we'll find out whether Cruz is on the playoff roster.
|Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss Nelson Cruz accepting his 50-game suspension for using PEDs. |
That is, if it's acceptable to the 24 players Cruz let down by getting suspended for what he said was an "error in judgment" for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
"We really want to see how this plays out, most importantly with his teammates," Daniels said. "Not giving specifics, but there have been other scenarios where because of how it was handled, the player was not welcomed back first and foremost with the clubhouse. That’s something we want to see.
"Assuming that there’s not any other information that we’re not yet aware of and if his teammates welcome him back and Nellie handles this well, which I expect he probably will, then we’re open to it."
|Fitzsimmons and Durrett react to Nelson Cruz's suspension and discuss the impact his absence will have on the Rangers' lineup, what players need to step up and the team's playoff hopes. |
Daniels disputed that Monday. He said he was contacted by Cruz's new agent, Adam Katz, on Sunday night, who informed him his client was accepting the suspension. The Rangers did believe it was a possibility Cruz would appeal his suspension out of loyalty to the ballclub and his teammates, team CEO Nolan Ryan said Monday.
"We knew this was out there," Daniels said. "There’s not a lot we could do about it. I’m not sure had he made up his mind any sooner, it would’ve impacted much anyhow."
The Rangers' plan is to replace Cruz from within the organization. They will call up outfielders Joey Butler and Engel Beltre to give them a right-handed and left-handed bat in a platoon situation. Recently acquired Adam Rosales was designated for assignment.
The club will explore the post-trade deadline market, Daniels said, as it does every season. Deals are more difficult to make due to the pool of players shrinking because of no-trade clauses and the complication of getting players to pass through waivers.
The Rangers did pick up outfielder Jeff Francoeur in a trade in August 2010.
"Obviously, not every club is looking to talk about every player so you're dealing with a much smaller pool of players who are even potentially available so it's more challenging," Daniels said.
Ryan, who also was on the conference call, expressed disappointment in Cruz's involvement with the Biogenesis clinic.
"I pretty much have the same feeling that Jon has that we’re disappointed that he violated the drug policy and that he’s now having to deal with that," Ryan said.
Cruz said in a statement that his error in judgment was a result of losing 40 pounds because of a gastrointestinal infection before the 2012 season. He was treated in the Dominican Republic while playing winter ball, then went to Miami for more treatment.
It was at that point that he became involved in the Biogenesis clinic.
"I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse," Cruz said.
"What he said about the weight loss he had and the intestinal virus, or whatever it was he was dealing with, it was my understanding that it actually happened," Ryan said. "He had substantial weight loss, and it was an ongoing issue for him that offseason. To my knowledge, that is a correct statement."
The Rangers have not decided whether Cruz will work out at the team facility during his suspension. If he does, he can be at Rangers Ballpark only until the gates open for that day's game.
"Nelson will just fly back here to Dallas, and we’ll revisit that here in a couple days once the dust settles," Daniels said.
As for bringing him back for the playoffs or bringing him back next year -- Cruz is a free agent after the season -- that remains to be seen, Daniels said.
Cruz made it clear in his statement that he wants to return and looks forward to it. He is a well-liked player in the Rangers' clubhouse, so maybe this isn't it for Cruz and the Rangers.
"I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Rangers organization, my teammates, and the great Rangers’ fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team for the playoffs," Cruz said.
Then he got a call Friday from A's assistant general manager David Forst with what Rosales called some shocking but great news. He had been claimed by the Texas Rangers and would be on their roster Friday night for the opener of a three-game series against his former team.
|Eric Nadel joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' series with Oakland. |
"I think it's great. I think it's a wonderful opportunity. It's great to be on this ball club who's contending for a playoff spot, that has a great track record, that has a competitive team, a successful team. That's what I'm looking for in my career right now, to be a part of that."
Rosales' best position is shortstop, but he has also played second base, third base, first base and in the outfield during his career.
"Just gives us some versatility," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Now I might be able to pinch run for some guys that I wouldn't do normally because I didn't have the backup I needed. He gives me some backup because he can play anywhere on the field, all the infield and play some outfield."
Texas assistant general manager Thad Levine said the Rangers have "always admired the way" Rosales plays.
"He plays with a ton of energy and enthusiasm," Levine said. "We feel like he's a Texas Rangers type of player who happened to have been playing for the Oakland Athletics. We think he's found his rightful home now."
By claiming Rosales, the Rangers prevented him from returning to the A's roster down the stretch in what is shaping up as a tight race in the American League West between the two teams.
"I think the fact that we play them so frequently gives us a better insight into the player," Levine said. "We feel like we know him very well. Specifically, is there a value of stealing [him] from the A's? I don't know that that really factored in, but certainly anytime you can add a quality player and subtract one from them, that's an added benefit."
Rosales was in the visiting clubhouse Friday at the O.co Coliseum for the first time in his career, wearing a Rangers uniform.
"It's very strange, very surreal," Rosales said. "But it's a good feeling. I look forward to everything this opportunity is going to bring. Excited to be a Texas Ranger now."
Roster move: The Rangers sent outfielder Engel Beltre to Triple-A Round Rock, opening a spot for Rosales on their 25-man roster. Beltre hit .300 (9-for-30) with a double, two RBIs and five runs scored in his first major-league stint. He appeared in 13 games.
"I feel I had a good time here, good experience with the guys, a good team," Beltre said. "For me it was an unbelievable time that I've been waiting for a lot. I've been waiting for this time to be here in the major leagues. I really had a good time here.
"I'm just going to go and do my job there and try to do the same things I'm doing, trying to get a chance and a call-up back."
Washington said Beltre made the most of his first trip to the major leagues.
"Improved. Professional. He really took his opportunity up here very, very seriously," Washington said. "There wasn't a day he was here that he didn't do something to get better. It's just that we got the outfield covered and we felt like he needed to continue to get at-bats. He proved he could play up here, and he handled himself well under the conditions that he had to, but he needed to go play."
No news on Cruz: The Rangers have to yet learn whether right fielder Nelson Cruz will be suspended in the wake of Major League Baseball's investigation into Biogenesis, the Miami clinic that allegedly distributed performance enhancing drugs to a number of players before being shut down.
If the Rangers lose Cruz to a suspension, they'll have a big hole to fill. Who would take Cruz's playing time?
"It would be [Craig] Gentry and whoever else we decide we want to put out there throughout the system," Washington said.
The rookie Beltre would "conceivably" be one option, but Washington said he wouldn't consider giving Jurickson Profar a heavy dose of playing time in the outfield because he's not ready for that defensively.
"It's not catching the ball. He can go catch the ball," Washington said. "The tentative part comes when it's in-between him and another outfielder. He just doesn't have the [experience] yet to know if he can get on something or if he can't. And the only way that's going to happen is for him to play out there, and right now I can't afford to play him out there to get that."
Washington said he expects to continue using Profar primarily in the infield and as a designated hitter. He was in the lineup Friday night at DH, batting ninth.
Injury update: Cruz was in the lineup in right field, batting sixth. Washington pinch hit for Cruz in the seventh inning Thursday night against the Los Angeles Angels because he had a sore quad. He was struck by a thrown ball Tuesday in the third inning while running to first when the Angels tried to turn a double play.
"It was still bothering him, and when we got late in the game I just wanted to give him a couple innings off so he didn't have to be out there because I felt like we had the game in hand," Washington said. "That's all that was.
"Today he's probably going to be better. He's got a big old ball mark there. Got the seams in his hip area."
That was put to the test again after Sunday's postgame meeting in Cleveland in which Washington urged his team to fight harder.
|Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss last night's walk-off win, how a team or player can break out of a slump and what he wants the front office to do before the trade deadline. |
Washington said Tuesday during his weekly radio show on "Fitzsimmons and Durrett" on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM that Monday night's walk-off 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels could be one of the special ones out of 162 games. A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto hit home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri.
The Rangers didn't pick up a game on Oakland -- which beat Toronto to remain six games up in the American League West -- but it was a boost to the Rangers' psyche.
"We had a statement that we wanted to make to each other," Washington said of what came out of that meeting. "Not to any team. But each other."
Washington clarified his comment on his radio show about wanting to see more fight from his team. He's seen it from individual players, just not from the team as a group.
|Rangers catcher Geovany Soto joins Galloway and Company to discuss his walk-off home run against the Angels. |
After a June loss to Toronto, Washington called a meeting and the team reeled off 10 wins in 13 games against Oakland, St. Louis, the New York Yankees and Cincinnati.
Maybe the latest meeting will spark his club again.
Standing by Murphy: Washington said that while he will keep finding at-bats for rookie outfielder Engel Beltre, he won't take away at-bats from David Murphy, who is in a season-long slump.
"I'm going to keep Murphy out there fighting because in a minute good things can happen," Washington said. "I'm willing to take a chance on that minute."
So how do you get Murphy going?
"I'm just going to have to keep playing him," Washington said. "That's how you do it. You have to keep him out there. Last night he smoked a ball and the way things are going, he smoked it right at somebody. That could have easily been a first-and-third situation with nobody out.
"We need to get Murphy going. I'm going to play Beltre. But I'm not going to not give Murphy a chance to see if he can come out of it. If he can come out of it, it can be a big boost for us."
Wash's words are a reminder about why the majority of his players love him and play hard for him.
"This game is about loyalty," Washington said. "It's about what you've done in the past and because you're struggling right now, it's hard to turn your back on that."
Texas fell to five games out of first place in the American League West. The Rangers are 2-7 since the All-Star break. They have scored three or fewer runs in six of the nine games.
Darvish on K binge: Darvish allowed a leadoff home run to Michael Bourn, then went on a strikeout binge that drove up his pitch count and his season strikeout total. Darvish had 11 strikeouts in six innings. It's his seventh double-digit strikeout game of the season, most in the majors. He also retook the major league lead in strikeouts from the New York Mets' Matt Harvey with 172.
Pitch count police: Darvish threw 123 pitches, the most he's thrown in a game since the controversial 130 he threw on May 16 against Detroit. The most Darvish had thrown in a game since then was 117 pitches on June 30 against Cincinnati.
Masterson dominates: Indians starter Justin Masterson was 0-4 against the Rangers before Saturday night. He changed that with a dominating effort. Masterson allowed five hits and one walk in 7 2/3 innings. Texas didn't have an extra-base hit against a pitcher who had a 6.49 ERA against the team entering the game.
Almost doesn't count: The Rangers put together a rally in the top of the fifth when Geovany Soto had a one-out single and Ian Kinsler was hit by a pitch with two outs. That brought up rookie Engel Beltre, who hit a smash into left field for a base hit. The only problem is Beltre hit it too well, and with Soto not a fast runner and Indians right fielder Drew Stubbs possessing a strong throwing arm, the Rangers' catcher had to stop at third base. Nelson Cruz ended the threat with a fielder's choice groundout to shortstop.
Not in the first: Cruz and Adrian Beltre both got ahead in the count 3-0 against Masterson and didn't get on base with Engel Beltre already on base. Cruz grounded out and Adrian Beltre struck out as the Rangers again didn't score in the first inning. With Cleveland scoring its only run in the first, Texas has been outscored in the opening inning, 50-26.
Up next: The Rangers finish up a three-game road series in Cleveland when right-hander Alexi Ogando (4-2, 3.13) faces right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4, 4.49) at 12:05 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest, ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM. Texas opens a three-game series at home Monday against the Los Angeles Angels with an early start of 6:05 p.m.
Mitch Moreland occupied the spot Monday but will bat seventh in Game 2 of the four-game series with the Yankees. Craig Gentry is playing center field in place of Leonys Martin, and Engel Beltre is getting the start in left for David Murphy. Here are the lineups:
|Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzimmons and Durrett to discuss the Matt Garza trade and if the Rangers are done shopping before the deadline. |
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Jurickson Profar
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Adrian Beltre
C A.J. Pierzynski
SS Elvis Andrus
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Craig Gentry
LF Engel Beltre
CF Brett Gardner
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Robinson Cano
1B Lyle Overbay
DH Vernon Wells
SS Eduardo Nunez
3B Brent Lillibridge
LF Melky Mesa
C Austin Romine
Joe Nathan: He was the American League delivery man of the month after saving all 11 of his opportunities in June. Nathan has converted 12 straight saves and is 28 for 29 for the season. He has a 9⅓ scoreless innings streak intact. Nathan can put a scare into you -- Seattle's Kyle Seager hit one off Nathan to the fence in a 5-4 game on Thursday night -- but he is getting the job done.
Martin Perez: His scoreless inning streak ended at 16 2/3 innings Thursday night after the Mariners scored an unearned run against him. Perez has pitched five innings and allowed two runs or less in all three of his starts since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock. He has stabilized the rotation while rookies Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm have struggled of late.
Engel Beltre: When the 23-year-old rookie outfielder is involved in the game, something exciting happens. Beltre sparked the Rangers again Thursday night, scoring the go-ahead run from third base on a shallow line drive to left field. Beltre has two multihit games in three starts and tons of energy to go with it.
A.J. Pierzynski: Pierzynski isn't alone as far as slumping, especially power wise. He has two hits in his past 21 at-bats, though his single in the seventh inning Thursday night keyed a four-run inning and rallied the Rangers from a 3-1 deficit. He's in a bit of home run drought, going without a long ball since June 22. Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and David Murphy have all ended 20-plus game streaks without a home run this week, so it's Pierzynski's turn.
Robbie Ross/Neal Cotts: OK, their stock isn't really down. The overall picture says both pitchers have been outstanding this season. But they did each give up two-run home runs in the series against Seattle, both coming with the game tied. Ross' home run allowed to Seager came in the top of the 11th, and the Rangers went on to lose 4-2.
The Heat: What happened to the 100-degree days in Arlington? The scorchers? The game-time temperature on July 4 was 93 degrees. After a hot start to the homestand, it's been mild all week. Maybe the sun is in a slump? We probably won't be saying that in August.
Baker went to see a hand specialist Monday after taking five swings in the batting cages Friday afternoon. He was unable to control the bat head. Baker, who injured his thumb during a high-five that went wrong with an unnamed teammate, has been out since June 13.
|Manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the Rangers at the halfway point of the season. |
"I’m kind of past the frustration of that," Baker said. "Now it’s just busting my tail and doing whatever I can with treatment and therapy. Our doctors are obviously doing everything they can."
The Rangers miss Baker's right-handed bat in the lineup. He had nine home runs in 82 at-bats. Jurickson Profar, who is batting .257 with three home runs, was in Tuesday's lineup as the designated hitter because manager Ron Washington needed a right-handed bat against Mariners left-handed starter Joe Saunders.
Baker said he'll be in the new splint for three or four days. He's hopeful that the latest shot in the joint area will speed up his recovery.
"It’s like a sprained ankle," Baker said. "You want to try to strengthen it and build it up, but it’s also a pain tolerance [issue]. Any time you have a sprain, you have a tear in there. If you keep beating it up, it’s not going to heal. I tried to push it and progress it to see if I could get past that threshold. Off the tee and soft toss was fine, but during [batting practice] I couldn’t do it."
|Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross joins Chuck Cooperstein, Matt Mosley, and Glenn "Stretch" Smith on Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' series against the Mariners. |
Lindblom, who has made four starts this season after converting from being a reliever, will give the Rangers two long relievers. Right-hander Ross Wolf, who has excelled in that role, will continue there.
"They both can be used in multiple roles," Washington said. "If we use one on one day, we have another one. The thing about them is when they do come out of the bullpen, they can give us more than one inning, which is what you like to have."
General manager Jon Daniels said the club should know in the next few days if it's likely that McClellan will stay with the organization. McClellan, who had shoulder surgery last July, was pushing himself to get back to the form he had with St. Louis for five seasons.
He is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in seven relief appearances since his contract was purchased from Round Rock on June 9. Daniels said the Rangers would like to keep McClellan, but it's his choice.
"Right now, he needs a little bit more time to get the arm strength back," Daniels said. "He was really ahead of schedule from surgery. He’s still less than 12 months off from surgery. In the long-term prognosis, we just felt like he needed a little more time. Maybe we were a little premature in pushing him and bringing him up here."
Wolf, who worked three scoreless innings Saturday after not pitching for two days, could take on a more demanding role, pitching in some short-relief situations. The Rangers have liked how he's reacted to every role they've given him, from spot starter to pitching six-plus innings in an 18-inning game against Toronto last month.
"I just know that I have a guy that knows how to do his role," Washington said. "We sat on him one time eight or nine days, and he still was able to come in and give us four innings. So that's amazing right there."
Profar at DH: Washington said it wasn't easy to put a rookie in the lineup at designated hitter Tuesday, but in need of a right-handed bat, he went with the 20-year-old Profar.
"I needed another right-handed at-bat," Washington said. "I could have gone with [Robinson] Chirinos, but Profar is swinging the bat."
Profar in the outfield: Profar is making progress in the outfield, going through all of the drills, but Washington said his young player isn't ready to start a game yet.
"If there's a blowout either way, I might take a chance and shoot him out there and give him a chance out there under those conditions," Washington said. "I don't think I'll throw him out there and take a chance on him doing something [in a close game].
Beltre OK: Rookie outfielder Engel Beltre wasn't in the lineup Tuesday, but he was available to play.
Beltre, who had a knee-to-knee collision with Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco on Sunday, said he's a little sore but ready to go. He was also hit in the ear on the throw home by Reds pitcher Mat Latos, but he's having no problems and didn't need a concussion test Sunday as he returned to play.
Cotts, Nathan share honor: Relievers Neal Cotts and Joe Nathan finished in a tie for the Rangers June Player of the Month award based on voting by local media members who cover the team on a regular basis.
Cotts was 4-1 with a 0.59 ERA for June as he continued his storybook season after having not pitched in the big leagues since 2010. Nathan had a 0.63 ERA and held opponents to a .133 batting average. The Rangers closer had 11 saves for the month, tying him with Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the big league lead for June.
Lewis update: Rehabbing right-hander Colby Lewis (elbow) threw a 37-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday and will have another one on Thursday. He could be ready for a live batting practice session after that.
Harrison extends: Left-hander Matt Harrison (back surgery) threw 25 times from 120 feet on Tuesday and will continue with that long toss schedule all week.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.