Texas Rangers: Max Ramirez
Less than a week after he was placed on waivers by the Rangers and claimed by the Boston Red Sox, Ramirez is one the move again. The Red Sox then put Ramirez on waivers, and he was snatched up by the Chicago Cubs.
Ramirez, 26, split 2010 between the Rangers and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He played 56 games with OKC, batting .286 with nine doubles, three homers, 29 RBIs and a .373 on-base percentage. With the Rangers, Ramirez hit .217 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in 28 games.
Ramirez was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves (2002), was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2006 and joined the Rangers in 2007 as part of the Kenny Lofton trade.
Ramirez, 26, hit .217 with two homers and eight RBIs in 28 games with the Rangers in 2010. He was in Triple-A Oklahoma City the remainder of the season and hit .286 with three homers and 29 RBIs in 56 games. He was acquired from the Indians for outfielder Kenny Lofton in July 2007.
I'm not surprised to see someone take a chance on Ramirez. It's the second time Boston has plucked the Rangers' system for a catcher in the last six months. They obtained Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the trade deadline last July.
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Michael Young
2B Ian Kinsler
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Josh Hamilton
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Justin Smoak
C Max Ramirez
CF Julio Borbon
SS Erick Aybar
2B Howie Kendrick
RF Bobby Abreu
CF Torii Hunter
DH Hideki Matsui
1B Mike Napoli
3B Kevin Frandsen
C Bobby Wilson
LF Reggie Willits
It started in the third inning when Ian Kinsler was ejected for the first time this season. Kinsler flipped his bat and helmet after he was called out on strikes by home plate umpire Eric Cooper.
"There is no point in talking about it," Kinsler said.
In the seventh inning, during a rundown Michael Young tagged Hunter Pence, who was standing on the second base bag. Young, who was chasing Carlos Lee back to second, then tagged Lee, who overran the bag.
Lee was already at second base, trying to advance on a bouncer by Pence. But as Lee ran toward second he was caught in a rundown. Ron Washington wanted to know why it wasn't a double play.
"He said he didn’t feel like that’s what happened," Washington said of Reilly. "He felt like Michael touched Lee before he got to Pence and I tried to argue he touched Pence first."
The last straw, if you will, came in the ninth inning when reliever Alexi Ogando threw a fastball instead of a slider, and the miscommunication led to catcher Max Ramirez failing to catch the ball. It hit off the mask of Cooper, who hit the ground face first.
The Rangers believe someone on the crew mentioned that Ramirez should have caught the ball.
It led Ramirez to go after the umpires and forced Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux to come out of the dugout.
"Just one of the umpires getting out of control and we had to get him in control," Washington said. "There was a mix-up right there on the pitch, and one of them said something they shouldn’t have said. That’s what that was all about."
Reilly told a reporter that it's the third time someone in the crew has been hit with a pitch, and that's what was said in frustration. Reilly said he didn't think the Rangers were trying to hit Cooper on purpose.
"I called a slider and he didn’t see the sign good, and he threw me a fastball and it hit the umpire," Ramirez said. "It was a misunderstanding [with the umpire]."
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Michael Young
2B Ian Kinsler
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Josh Hamilton
RF David Murphy
1B Justin Smoak
C Max Ramirez
CF Julio Borbon
"I feel better, a lot better than yesterday," said Guerrero through a translator. "There is no pain and I know I can see. I feel good."
Guerrero has been the offensive leader of this club all season, so he's an important bat to have at the cleanup spot as the Rangers begin this three-game set with Tampa Bay, sporting the best record in baseball.
* LHP Derek Holland is scheduled to throw off flat ground tomorrow after resting his arm. He said he has shoulder tendinitis, though the official injury was left rotator cuff inflammation.
"I want to get out there and get going, but I know you have to be patient," Holland said. "I feel good and am glad I can start throwing."
Holland said he doesn't know the long-term plan and is focused on just doing what he's told each day. Washington said Holland would stretch out on flat ground and eventually throw a bullpen before the club will decide what to do with him next. Washington said there's no urgency except to get Holland healthy. That's because the club has Tommy Hunter scheduled to take Holland's place.
"I hope Tommy does well and makes it a tough decision on the staff," Holland said. "I wish him the best. We all pull for each other here."
You've got to like that attitude.
* OF Nelson Cruz (left hamstring strain) ran on a treadmill on Thursday and is scheduled to run in the outfield before tonight's game. He said even when his leg is stretched hard, he doesn't feel any pain. So he's encouraged by that. Now it's a question of getting back into shape and seeing if the hamstring keeps responding. The earliest he can be reinstated from the DL is June 13. The club is in Milwaukee in the middle of a road trip during that time.
* RHP Tommy Hunter was glad to be back in the Rangers' clubhouse and is eager to pitch on Saturday. "It was good to come in and smile and see everyone," Hunter said. "I want to pitch well and help this team." We'll have more on Hunter later on, but he's pleased with his progress and said he's built up his innings. Washington isn't worried about Hunter's pitch count. Hunter threw 94 pitches in his last start.
* Catcher Max Ramirez is in the game tonight and the plan is for him to catch tomorrow as well to give Matt Treanor two days off. The time off helped Treanor in Chicago. He was 4-for-13 with four RBIs. "We have to be careful with him," Washington said. "We'll just have to watch him and get him some time when we can."
Manager Ron Washington said Cruz will make his first start Friday in Toronto. He'll do so as the No. 6 hitter.
"It was tough and it was boring too, seeing guys play everyday and you are on the bench," Cruz said. "It's not something you expect, especially this early in the season. I'm excited to be back and I want to try to help the team as much as I can."
Cruz's return means the Rangers will have a lineup that includes both Kinsler and Cruz for the first time all season.
"I'm excited to see what we can do together," Cruz said.
So is Washington, who was running through the meat of his order as a smile crept on his face.
"To have Michael, Josh, Vlad, Kinsler and Cruz hitting in a row...I love it," Washington said.
* Washington considers his club at full strength and that includes the catchers. He's pleased with the job Matt Treanor and Max Ramirez have done the last few weeks. That doesn't mean the club isn't still keeping an eye on Jarrod Saltalamacchia. But the young catcher who was the Opening Day starter (and walk-off hero) is still working on his throws and isn't ready to return. He is hitting the ball, though, for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"When Salty is back, he'll be back because he forced us to do so," Washington said. "No one has forgotten about Salty. We know what he brings to the table."
Washington's top priority from his catcher isn't offense. He wants solid defense and an ability to call games and help pitchers through innings. But, of course, some added punch at the plate is a big plus. That's something the club has missed most of the year. But there are small signs that things are coming around there. Treanor had two hits Tuesday against the A's. Ramirez had three hits on Wednesday.
Washington said Ramirez caught Derek Holland -- and did an excellent job -- because Treanor had to play 13 innings on Tuesday. Washington said he'll put his catchers out there where they fall in terms of the opposing pitcher and when they need a break. He won't make any sort of decision to put one specific catcher with a specific pitcher. But there's no doubt that Holland was comfortable with Ramirez receiving him after throwing to Ramirez in the minors.
* Playing time for David Murphy will get a lot tougher with Cruz back in the lineup. We'll be discussing that more in the next few days, but Murphy is this club's fourth outfielder. He could play against lefties some, which is what he was doing for a number of games when Cruz was healthy. Washington wants Julio Borbon to get a chane to hit some lefties, but not some of the tougher ones. So Murphy would play then. Obviously, he'll play when the other outfielders need a break as well.
"I won't sit on him for very long," Washington said. "He knows what he has to do. He just happens to be our fourth guys. He's a very productive fourth guy. I definitely have to find ways to keep David engaged."
After the game, the strides he’s made were clear.
Ramirez worked brilliantly with Derek Holland, with whom he shared three starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, and went 3-4 from the plate including a sixth-inning home run.
Ramirez said it was business as usual for him and Holland in the Rangers’ 10-1 win.
“We worked together well in Oklahoma, so we’re trying to do the same job here,” Ramirez said. “We tried to make the outs and make good pitches, and it was a good game.”
The two were so in sync, Ramirez had Holland shaking off calls strictly to throw off batters—the pitches remained the same.
As for his plate success, Ramirez credited patience for his solid night of hitting, especially on the home run he hit off Oakland’s Chad Gaudin.
“I was waiting for a good pitch to hit and he threw me a good sinker in, and I tried to get it to the middle and I hit it pretty good,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez is now 5-13 for a .385 batting average.
Ian Kinsler, at third base after alertly tagging up from second on a fly ball to center by Justin Smoak, started to home plate. A's pitcher Gio Gonzalez, clearly bothered by Kinsler, stopped his motion and threw wide of home, scoring Kinsler. The play was at first ruled an error on the pitcher, but was changed to a balk.
So was Kinsler simply bluffing, or was he serious about going home?
"I was going," Kinsler said. "I was going to try to steal home right there. He did something funky and threw it to the backstop. My angle showed me it was a balk all the way. I was gone. If he goes through with his windup, I'm going to steal home right there."
Kinsler said he watched Gonzalez during Ryan Garko's at-bat (with one out) and got his timing down.
"He would get his sign and he has that little pause in his windup before he picks up his leg and comes home, and I thought I had enough time to steal home," Kinsler said. "I wish he would have gone through with it. It would have been fun to see if I could have made it."
Gonzalez wasn't happy with himself after the game.
"If I'd stepped off and taken my time, I would have had him out easy, no doubt about it," Gonzalez said. "That was a free out I kind of gave away myself."
* The Rangers had five homers Wednesday, a season high and the most they've hit since bashing five against the Angels on Aug. 7, 2009.
* Elvis Andrus has a 12-game hitting streak.
* Max Ramirez hit his first homer of the season and had three hits. He also did a nice job handling Holland.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Derek Holland has no trouble following instructions. When he was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City after a spring training that included a right knee sprain and some inconsistent outings, he was told to work on his four-seam fastball command and introducing all his secondary pitches, including a slider, curve and changeup.
Holland did it in the minors -- a 0.93 ERA and 4-1 record in six starts -- and brought the same gameplan with him to the majors Wednesday for his first start in 2010. The result: Six innings of scoreless baseball in a 10-1 Texas Rangers win over the Oakland Athletics. Holland had seven strikeouts and just one walk, and he let only two Oakland baserunners get into scoring position.
"The main thing was to be able to attack the zone, but be able to use all four of my pitches," Holland said. "The defense was behind me making plays, and the offense was just crushing the ball."
Holland said he used all of his pitches, especially his changeup.
"The big thing I was upset about is my fastball," Holland said. "I kept getting it up a little bit every once in a while. I was making too many pitches because of that. The thing I want to work on for my next start is getting my pitches down."
It took Holland only a few questions to go ahead and think about his next start. It's that kind of attitude that has the Rangers' staff excited about what Holland can do.
"He was outstanding," manager Ron Washington said. "He came in to right-handed hitters well. He was able to go down and away to lefties. His fastball had command. He pitched very well. He brought what he was doing in the minors up here."
Holland admits that the sprained knee and subsequent start of his season in Triple-A may have been the best thing for him in 2010.
"I never say you want to get hurt, but that knee injury was a big plus for me," Holland said. "It made me establish my off-speed pitches and do the work that I needed to take care of. I thought that was huge."
Holland said he treated every inning as if it were a 0-0 game. And for the first four innings, it was. Holland was particularly pleased that he got Jake Fox on a strikeout to end the fourth. That ended a scoring threat with a runner at third in a scoreless game.
Holland pumped his fist, showing some emotion.
"I got caught up in it," Holland said. "I'm not going to do that again. You don't want to show too much. You don't want to give them any momentum. Stay calm."
Holland said it helped to have Max Ramirez behind the plate. The two played in Oklahoma City some this season and in the past and know each other well. Holland was shaking his head on some pitches in the first but said that was simply to fool the hitters. Ramirez and Holland were clearly on the same page throughout the night. Washington said if not for a long fourth inning, Holland's pitch count might have allowed him to go seven innings. Instead, he threw 103 pitches and got through six.
* What a night for Derek Holland. He made sure his first start of 2010 was a memorable one, going six scoreless innings. He showed excellent fastball command and relied on that for most of his outing, mixing in some changeups and sliders when he needed them. Holland stayed calm throughout his start, even with runners on base. He attacked hitters and was aggressive. He did get some of his breaking stuff over, but that fastball command was the difference.
* Holland had seven strikeouts and one walk. He allowed just two Oakland baserunners to get into scoring position (on doubles in the third and fourth) and got out of those jams fine. He threw 103 pitches, 68 for strikes. It was a quality start in every sense of the term.
* One other note that I think is worth mentioning: Holland also seemed more fired up than usual. He let out a huge fist pump when he struck out Jake Fox to get out of a jam in the fourth. It was good to see Holland really get into the game like that.
* Ian Kinsler ran the bases very well -- and aggressively -- in the fourth inning. He hit an RBI double in the fourth off Gio Gonzalez and then tagged up on a Justin Smoak fly ball to center to go to third. Because of that, Kinsler was at third with two outs and caused havoc when he faked as if to steal home. Gonzalez panicked and threw wild to home, allowing Kinsler to score. It was scored an error because Gonzalez stepped off the rubber and didn't technically throw a pitch. Kinsler made it happen by confusing Gonzalez. That made it 2-0 in the fourth.
* Hamilton hit his second two-run homer in this series. This one was 427 feet. He did it against the lefty Gonzalez. Hamilton was 7-for-37 (.189) against lefties before that homer. He's getting more and more comfortable at the plate, and you can see it in his approach. The homer came on a 3-2 count.
* Guerrero hit his seventh on the season and it was right after Hamilton's homer (though against a different pitcher). It's the third time the Rangers have hit back-to-back homers this season, the second time this homestand (Guerrero and Hamilton did it Thursday vs. Kansas City).
* Holland showed off his pickoff move, getting Rajai Davis in the third for the second out of the inning. Holland has been working on a pickoff move, and it showed. That turned a runners on the corner, one-out situation into a runner at third with two outs. Holland ended up walking Cliff Pennington but got Adam Rosales to fly out to end the inning.
* Elvis Andrus doubled to start the game but had baserunning issues. He was straying off the bag at second and broke too soon. The A's caught him with Young at the plate in a run-scoring situation. Andrus has a team-high 14 steals (tied for second in the AL), but he has also been caught stealing six times, which leads the league. Young doubled after Andrus was caught and was stranded.
* Craig Gentry was scratched from the lineup with an upset stomach, so Hamilton moved to center and David Murphy was inserted in left field.
* Ramirez had a three-hit night as the catcher after Matt Treanor caught all of the 13-inning affair Tuesday. Ramirez looked very good at home plate. Maybe that will get him going.
* The large lead allowed Ron Washington to get some players a break in the eighth inning, including Young, who to that point had played every inning of every game. Andres Blanco played third for the tirst time.
* The bullpen got a break, for the most part. Only Darren O'Day (one inning) and Doug Mathis (two) were used.
"My intention is to give him a day off," Washington said. "But if he swings the bat tonight, it's going to be hard to fight him off. We'll just see how he does."
Washington simply wants to be sure he gives Kinsler some time here and there to give the ankle a rest, especially early in his return. If Kinsler doesn't get Wednesday off, Washington could decide to give him Sunday's day game against Kansas City off, which would actually give Kinsler two straight days with the off day on Monday.
Kinsler talked as he returned about how his range wasn't great at second base, but he you wouldn't have known it on Monday. He was able to go from his left and right and cover a lot of ground.
"I think his range will get better every day," Washington said. "That's something that will improve with each game."
* RHP Neftali Feliz pitched well in his second of a back-to-back outing. He threw eight pitches in Sunday's game in Seattle, so he wasn't coming off a lengthy outing before coming in with a runner at first and no outs in the ninth on Monday and getting the save. But he also didn't have a lengthy outing on the front end of his first foray into consecutive outings last week and that didn't go very well. So it was clear smoe progress was made.
"That's the mental side of it," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "We'll see how he does now that he's done it. But I would think he has to gain confidence from that."
Washington didn't rule out using Feliz in tonight's game.
"We'll see how he feels," Washington said. "We will close the game somehow. We could use Darren Oliver, Chris Ray, Darren O'Day. I'm comfortable with what we've got down there."
* Washington said catcher Max Ramirez is expected to play Wednesday.
* Maddux said more than anything to do with mechanics, it was Rich Harden's approach that made the biggest difference in Monday's outing.
"He threw strikes early and went after guys," Maddux said. "That was a huge difference. And there was probably a comfort level for him pitching here."
Harden got first-pitch strikes to the first 12 batters he faced. He ended up going seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. It was an impressive performance and a vast improvement over his first five starts.
* INF Joaquin Arias (stiff lower back) took batting practice on Tuesday and has worked in the field. He said his back has improved. "It's still a little sore, but I can do things," Arias said. "It's much better."
* RHP Chris Ray said he feels like he did in 2005-07 and that his confidence has grown. Ray has a 1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. "The thing is that now I have a two-seamer and that's something I didn't have before I got hurt," Ray said. "That's a pitch that helps me against lefties."
* Maddux took a few swings in the batting cages early on Tuesday as Clint Hurdle threw some BP. "It was a chance for me to embarrass myself," Maddux said. "I do it once a year."
* OF Julio Borbon will likely get a chance to play a lot coming up with so many righties coming up against the Rangers. But Washington said Borbon will get some opportunities agianst lefties. "I want to pick and choose which ones," Washington said. He noted that he didn't want Borbon going against lefties like Cliff Lee and Dallas Braden.
* Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez and his wife, Anne, are parents to a third child, Kian Joseph, born Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Dallas time. Vazquez will rejoin the Rangers when they return home.
* The Rangers' ERA is climbing in the ninth inning. They now have a 7.48 ERA (18 ER in 21.2 IP) in the ninth inning this season. Opponents are batting .333 with a .404 OBP and .632 slugging percentage. That includes two runs given up on Monday in the ninth inning by Frank Francisco in the Rangers' 4-2 win.
But, as has been the case in a handful of games this season, defense and a strange inning led to a 7-5 loss. On Thursday, it was the seventh, which started with a ground ball to short. Justin Smoak stood ready to receive the throw, but misjudged it and couldn't catch it. The error put the leadoff batter on base and started a chain of events that turned a 3-1 Rangers lead into a 4-3 deficit after the inning was over. It moved the Rangers' mark to 7-5 when leading after six innings this season. They were 74-6 last season when they had the lead through the sixth inning.
"I thought it was going to get to me on the short hop," Smoak said. "I should have gone out and caught it. That was not the play I wanted to make."
Scott Feldman, who pitched well in his six innings, then walked Mark Kotsay on four pitches.
"That's a bad walk," Feldman said. "I'm trying to get a double play and walked him on four pitches. That was not good execution."
The White Sox closed the gap to a run and loaded the bases. Dustin Nippert then tried to throw a curve ball to Andruw Jones and it hit the dirt. Max Ramirez blocked it, but it bounced away from him. Ramirez's throw missed Nippert and two runs ended up scoring.
"It was a bang-bang play and I tried to grab the ball and swipe the tag," Nippert said. "I just missed it."
* Justin Smoak had no idea how far his first Major League homer went and smiled when told it was 402 feet into the upper deck in right field. He thinks someone got the ball for him, but he wasn't sure. "I felt good at the plate," Smoak said. "But winning is the main thing and we didn't quite do that today." Smoak also had a double for his first multi-hit and multi-RBI game of his young career.
* Scott Feldman said he didn't work on one particular thing after two straight struggling starts. "I just wanted to be better and more consistent," Feldman said. He was on Thursday. He did four, something he said he wants to cut down on, but he had pretty good command under windy conditions and got ground ball outs.
* It's worth noting this club has won five of its last eight after the six-game losing streak on the road. They head out west to face Seattle and Oakland starting Friday.
* Josh Hamilton is really starting to get things together. He is 9-for-23 in his last five games (.391) with two homers, two doubles and four RBIs.
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