Texas Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo

DALLAS -- At the annual Christmas luncheon on Wednesday, Texas Rangers president/GM Jon Daniels said the club is still searching to improve the roster via trade or free agency.

The team has made small moves, from trading for middle-of-the-rotation starter Ross Detwiler and drafting center fielder/second baseman Delino DeShields Jr. in the Rule 5 Draft.

When it comes to medical news, Prince Fielder (neck), Yu Darvish (elbow) and Shin-Soo Choo (ankle and elbow) are progressing well from injuries and should be ready for spring training with no limitations. Matt Harrison (back), Jurickson Profar (shoulder), Martin Perez (elbow) are doubtful for the start of the season. Perez, however, has started a throwing program and Profar and Harrison should begin one in January.

"I think there are a few areas where we'd like to add some depth, and we may," Daniels said. "I think a lot of our internal candidates for these spots there's been a lot of competition that's been created, both by some of the pieces that we've brought but maybe moreso some of the development of our young guys and the positive medical news were getting from the whole group that should be the best players on our team. I don't view it as an end date of putting a team together. There are moves (that) can be made, and we're going to take that approach. I do feel pretty good about the news we're getting on a lot of our guys and where that's gong to lead us."

Team awards: Harrison, who missed the season with back surgery, was named the 2014 Harold McKinney Good Guy Award in voting by the Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Adrian Beltre (Player of the Year), Darvish (Pitcher of the Year), Rougned Odor (Rookie of the Year) and Robinson Chirinos (Richard Durrett Hardest Working Man) will be honored along with Harrison at the team awards dinner Friday, Jan. 23 at the Dallas Omni Hotel. Tickets are available on the Rangers web site. Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.

Atkins signs minor-league deal: Right-handed starter Mitch Atkins signed a minor-league deal Wednesday. Atkins will be invited to minor league camp this spring. He went 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 28 games (22 starts) for Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi of the Atlanta Braves organization. Atkins, 29, is pitching winter ball in the Dominican League and has a 5.11 ERA in 10 starts.

Rangers toy drive: The team collected 6,965 toys and 50 bicycles for deserving families from low-income areas in Tarrant County during the 2014 Cowboy Santas Toy Drive. Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers and his wife Jessica were the honorary spokespersons for the toy drive.

Notes: Yu Darvish getting exam

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
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Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish is visiting team officials this week.

Items on his to-do list include meeting new manager Jeff Banister, checking in with pitching coach Mike Maddux and getting an exam on his right elbow, which had some mild inflammation toward the end of last season.

Darvish is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam and if the results are good, he's expected to begin his normal throwing program next month.

GM Jon Daniels said at the GM Meetings recently that Darvish is always in shape and doesn't have any issues regarding his durability. Darvish has spent time on the DL in all three of his big league seasons for a variety of reasons.

Darvish went on the DL after the mild inflammation was discovered and didn't return.

Chirinos wins award: It was nice to see Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos receive the first ever The Richard Durrett Hardest-Working Man award presented by the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Durrett, as you know, was a former Rangers beat writer for ESPNDallas.com. Durrett passed away June 17.

"I'm totally touched about the award," said Kelly Durrett, Richard's widow. "One of things I want our kids to remember about Richard was how hard working he was. He had so much dedication and drive and I still don't know how he got everything done in a day. He really did work harder than anyone I know. I think this is the perfect way to honor and to remember him. It's great that this could be done and I'm sure Robinson was someone Richard enjoyed working with and someone who is truly deserving."

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Rangers can now move forward

November, 14, 2014
Nov 14
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In some ways, the announcement of Rangers GM Jon Daniels and assistant GM Thad Levine getting three-year contract extensions Friday starts the process of moving on from the 2014 season.

You can say that a 95-loss season will never happen again for the Rangers, and it can’t be allowed given the amount of money spent and trades administered last season.

So now the Rangers focus on 2015 and the first order of business is getting right-handed starter Colby Lewis locked up.

Daniels has held talks with Lewis and his agent Alan Nero the last two weeks.

Next, Daniels has to find a quality pitcher to start behind Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and in front of Lewis if and when he signs. He can possibly add a young starter, Nick Martinez or Nick Tepesch, maybe as the No. 4 man.

Forget about Matt Harrison, at least for now, because the lefty, who was once a durable starter, is still recovering from his third back surgery in two seasons.

Daniels also wants another bat, particularly someone who can play left field since Shin-Soo Choo, one of those highly-priced free agents signed last year, could be moving to right. Daniels is open to Mitch Moreland or Jake Smolinski fighting for the job, but if a trade can be made with say San Diego, where old friend A.J. Preller is now the GM, then so be it.

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PHOENIX -- I think we all know what happened to the Texas Rangers in 2014. A 95-loss season, injuries to many players, the manager resigns and the Kansas City Royals, yeah, the Royals were playing in the World Series.

Nothing against the Royals, a club that earned an AL wild-card berth with 89 victories while barely hitting home runs out of the park, but the Rangers need to be better in 2015.

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If you don’t believe in some of the injured players’ returns, Prince Fielder (neck surgery), Shin-Soo Choo (elbow and ankle surgery) among others, then you need to listen to GM Jon Daniels.

He didn’t speak to reporters Tuesday in a bravado associated with a boxing promoter, yet he did note 2015 will not resemble 2014.

“It’s a very competitive division,” Daniels said during the GM Meetings. “I think we’ll be a lot better this year.”

Was 2014 a fluke?

“Yeah,” he said. “It was an aberration more than a fluke. When you look back in 10 years, you will not see 2014 as the start of the norm for us.”

Daniels can’t afford it to be the norm.

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A look at the Rangers position players

November, 4, 2014
Nov 4
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This morning we looked at the pitchers on Rangers 40-man roster.

Now we look at the position players:

Catchers:

Robinson Chirinos: Made 88 starts at catcher and goes into the season as the No. 1 man at his position. His 13 home runs tied for second on the team and were the sixth most in AL at catcher.

Tomas Telis: In just 18 games, Telis had a hit in 13 of them but struggled at throwing out runners. Base runners were 16-of-17 against him, but the Rangers liked how he called a game.

Infielders:

SS Elvis Andrus: Played a team-leading 157 games where he produced a career-high 35 doubles. The No. 2 man in the lineup needs a much better 2015 season.

3B Adrian Beltre: The MVP of the team was third in the AL with a .388 OBP and fourth in BA at .324. As he gets older, you wonder if he can keep this up. Probably.

1B Prince Fielder: Participated in just 42 games before a herniated disc in neck ended his season. He had played in 547 consecutive games before his health gave way. The Rangers need his power more than ever now.

1B/DH Mitch Moreland: Underwent ankle surgery after 52 games and the Rangers need his bat. He's not Fielder, of course, but they need some production from him.

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Rangers get roster to 40

November, 3, 2014
Nov 3
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The Texas Rangers moved nine players from the 60-day disabled list to the 40-man roster on Monday.

Here are the players moved:

*LF Shin-Soo Choo (bone spur in left elbow and torn cartilage in left ankle)

*RHP Yu Darvish (right elbow inflammation)

*1B Prince Fielder (herniated C5-C6 disc in his neck)

*LHP Matt Harrison (displaced vertebra/spondylolisthesis)

*DH/1B Mitch Moreland (surgery for Os Trigonum Syndrome in left ankle)

*RHP Alexi Ogando (right elbow inflammation)

*LHP Martin Perez (Tommy John surgery)

*2B Jurickson Profar (torn teres major muscle, right shoulder)

*RHP Tanner Scheppers (right elbow inflammation)

A look at ten potential free agent signings

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
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James ShieldsRick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsJames Shields could be a fit for the Rangers' rotation this offseason.


FanGraphs has a contract crowd sourcing project where they rank the top free agents this offseason based on projected contracts.

The rankings project how much a particular player should make thanks to a formula they designed.

Last year, Shin-Soo Choo was projected to get a five-year $81.1 million deal by FanGraphs, the Rangers signed the outfielder to a seven-year $130 million deal. You can debate whether or not Choo deserved the contract he received just based on his injury-plagued season. Here's last year's project.

With that we rank 10 free agents listed among the best free agents by FanGraphs who might be targets for the Rangers.

1. James Shields

FanGraphs projected salary: Five years, $90 million.

Comment: Shields, the fourth-ranked free agent, is considered to be in the Rangers' wheelhouse in terms of salary demands. He’s not going to get Jon Lester money, however his 14-8 season with a 3.7 WAR for Kansas City was impressive. He also had a 5.46 ERA in the postseason that was a little concerning. Shields would make a solid No. 2/3 starter to Yu Darvish and a four-to-five year contract seems in line with what the Rangers want to do.

2. Russell Martin

FanGraphs projected salary: Four years, $56 million.

Comment: He’s expected to get a qualifying offer of $15.3 million and reject it. He batted .290/.402/.430 in 111 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Jeff Banister, the new Rangers manager, has a relationship with him from his time with the Bucs. If the Rangers make a play for Martin, ranked No. 6 by FanGraphs, it would mean prized minor league catcher Jorge Alfaro is at least two more years away from the big leagues. Martin will be 32 on Opening Day 2015 so his shelf life is roughly three years based on that age.

3. Nelson Cruz

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $45 million.

Comment: The Rangers are in need of a corner outfielder and a full-time DH. Cruz, a former Ranger who is No. 10 by FanGraphs, fits this need. His salary demands could rise over the projected $45 million especially after a .525 slugging percentage and a 3.9 WAR in 2014. There's a history here with Cruz and he was suspended for the final 50 games of the 2013 season. But is the salary too much?

4. Ervin Santana

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $39 million.

Comment: The 31-year-old right-hander threw 196 innings for the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and has made more than 30 starts the last five seasons. Santana, No. 11 by FanGraphs, went 18-23 in his last two seasons pitching in the AL. Santana could be a nice signing if Shields' salary gets to high for the Rangers.

[+] EnlargeBrandon McCarthy
AP Photo/Tony DejakBrandon McCarthy is another attractive option for the Rangers' rotation.

5. Brandon McCarthy

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $36 million.

Comment: The New York Yankees want to re-sign the righty, who is coming off a career-high 200 innings of work in 2014. McCarthy, ranked No. 13, had a WAR of 3.0 and is more of a No. 3 starter. Say the Rangers can’t sign Shields or another top-tier free agent, McCarthy becomes a nice pitcher behind left-hander Derek Holland and Darvish. The Yankees, desperate for pitching, might overpay to retain the former Ranger.

6. Colby Rasmus

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $30 million.

Comment: He’s primary a center fielder (732 games) with only 15 games total as a corner outfielder. Leonys Martin is the Rangers' leadoff man and the starting center fielder, but could he change positions, left maybe, or could Rasmus do it? Rasmus hit .225/.287/.448 for Toronto and was sat for younger players in September. A new venue and change of position might work for the No. 16-ranked free agent.

7. Jason Hammel

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $27 million.

Comment: The right-handed starter has pitched for five teams and struggled after a trade from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland Athletics in 2014. He went 2-6 with the Athletics and in 13 starts pitched into the seventh inning four times. At No. 19, the 31-year old is a good No. 3 starter who might not command a ton of money.

8. Billy Butler

FanGraphs projected salary: Two years, $18 million.

Comment: A good durable player who might be a nice first baseman/DH to give Prince Fielder a break in the field and is the full-time DH. This is nothing against Mitch Moreland, but he’s coming off ankle surgery and it’s undetermined if he’ll be the same player. If you can upgrade with Butler, then it makes sense. He did have a poor -0.3 WAR and his strikeout percentage was 15.9 percent.

9. Torii Hunter

FanGraphs projected salary: One year, $10 million.

Comment: This is a one-shot deal. Hunter, 39, is a veteran player who can play a corner outfield spot and DH from time to time. If some of the younger Rangers aren’t ready to play the outfield yet, then Hunter is a smart play. You just wonder if Hunter wants to play here for one more season.

10. Justin Masterson

FanGraphs projected salary: One year $9 million.

Comment: Masterson will probably get more than a one-year deal from somebody but he dealt with knee problems and his sinker lost some velocity as the season progressed. He did make 25 starts last season between Cleveland and St. Louis. Ranked No. 36, the 29-year old Masterson, if healthy, might be a steal if someone wants to give him a chance.

Position Breakdown: Outfield

October, 21, 2014
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We continue our position series on the Rangers with a look at the outfield.

Outfielders: LF/RF Jim Adduci, CF/LF Michael Choice, LF Shin-Soo Choo, CF Leonys Martin, LF Daniel Robertson and LF Jake Smolinski.

Most productive outfielder: Martin

Least productive outfielder: Choice

Stat of note: Martin finished fourth in the big leagues with DWAR of 2.3.

Outlook: Martin (career-high 194 total bases) improved as a center fielder and leadoff hitter (.298/.354/.391) yet there are still concerns. Ron Washington didn't trust Martin against left-handed pitching or as a leadoff man, Tim Bogar did. New manager Jeff Banister hasn't said where he'll place Martin. Choo (123 games) played through a bone spur and then an ankle injury the majority of the season. He was the leadoff man until his injuries forced him to the 60-day disabled list. Choo said he's willing to move down from the leadoff spot and also possibly move to right field, a position he's more accustomed to playing. If Choo moves to right, the Rangers might look to a player already on their roster or to free agency for left field. If the Rangers sign a corner outfielder, Adduci, Robertson and Smolinski will compete for the fourth outfielder spot. Ryan Rua is another possibility, but he looked shaky in the outfield at times last season. Robertson is a contact hitter and might have the lead as the No. 4 outfielder, but Smolinski, after recovering from his foot injury, hit the ball pretty well late in the season. Choice won a job in spring training but was demoted. Can Choice respond and make a push to earn a roster spot? Engle Beltre has battled through leg problems and his status is unknown at this stage of the offseason. He was rehabbing but then had to stop when more leg issues developed. He's a talented player who hit .292 in 92 games for Triple-A Round Rock in 2013 and the club still has hopes for him.

Could Cespedes be a fit with the Rangers?

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
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Over the weekend, the Boston Globe reported the possibility of Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes being on the trade block. Cespedes was part of the Jon Lester deal with Oakland at the trade deadline.

Oakland wanted to improve its pitching for the stretch run of the season and Boston needed a power hitter for the future. Lester will hit the free-agent market, as expected, and Cespedes might be leaving the Red Sox.

Yoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonCould Red Sox slugger Yoenis Cespedes be a fit for the Rangers in left field?
Could the Rangers be a trade partner with the Red Sox?

Cespedes had a slash line of .296/.423/.719 in 213 plate appearances for the Red Sox last season and apparently is balking at moving to right field and wants to play left.

The Rangers, if a deal can be worked out, can accommodate Cespedes and move him to left field. Shin Soo-Choo, the Rangers left fielder in 2014, is a natural right fielder. Choo has 600 career games there and played right 12 times last season.

It seems Cespedes just wasn't happy in pressured-filled Boston. He had a 24-game stretch without a home run and just two RBIs in a 10-game period in September. He did finish the season with a hit in seven of the last eight games, with four multi-hit contests during that stretch.

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With the Texas Rangers still in the process of hiring a manager, the club is allowing its coaching staff to interview for other jobs, according to a source.

Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan has held preliminary discussions with the New York Mets and New York Yankees, according to the New York Post.

“We're just taking it slow," Magadan told NJ Advance Media. "I don't think either one of them is in a huge hurry to make any choices."

The Yankees fired hitting coach Kevin Long last week and the Mets let their hitting coach, Dave Hudgens, go last May. Lamar Johnson, who replaced Hudgens, will not be retained.

The Rangers, who are down to three finalists for the vacant managerial position, would like to fill that spot by the end of October.

Magadan has ties to the New York teams. He began his big league career with the Mets in 1986 and left after the 1992 season in free agency. He's spent the past two seasons as the Rangers' hitting coach. Last season, the Rangers finished tied for ninth with a .256 batting average, but there were several down years for multiple players such as Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios.

Report card: Grading the 2014 Rangers

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
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The Texas Rangers went 67-95 in 2014, but they did at least finish on a high note by winning 13 of their last 16 games. With the season over, it's time to hand out report cards for each player. Feel free to visit the comments section and give your favorite Rangers a grade.

Without further ado:

Robinson Chirinos, C: He found a spot on the roster because of Geovany Soto's injury woes and started 88 games. Now, he's the projected Opening Day starter for 2015. GRADE: C

Prince Fielder, 1B: The Rangers' big offseason acquisition lasted just 42 games and 150 at-bats before he had neck surgery that sidelined him for the rest of the year. He had been a very durable player up until now, but is this beginning the of a decline? His RBI, home run and slugging numbers have dipped in each of the past five seasons. GRADE: INC

[+] EnlargeRougned Odor
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezRougned Odor may have earned himself a permanent spot at second base in 2015.
Rougned Odor, 2B: Took over the second-base job and finished with a slash line of .259/.297/.402 in 114 games played. He showed some pop with nine homers in 386 at-bats, and, despite some growing pains on defense, he got better as the season progressed. GRADE: B

Elvis Andrus, SS: His overall numbers took a hit across the board. He scored 19 fewer runs than in the previous season and had five fewer hits, 26 fewer RBIs and 15 fewer stolen bases while hitting just .263 with two home runs. He hit into 21 double plays, tied for eighth most in the baseball. He did increase his doubles from 17 to 35. GRADE: C

Adrian Beltre, 3B: The team MVP led the Rangers in hits (178), batting average (.324), home runs (19) and runs batted in (77). He was forced to the carry the load on offense, but he could get some relief next season if Fielder can return to form. GRADE: A

Shin-Soo Choo, OF: He battled ankle and elbow injuries all season and said he probably should have taken more time off to heal the ankle. He hit .255 as the leadoff man and most will likely move down in the order in 2015. Choo could also shift from left field to right. GRADE: C

Leonys Martin, OF: Improved defensively in center field as the season moved along and is likely to be the leadoff man next season after logging 151 at-bats in the spot this year. His 31 stolen bases tied for ninth in MLB. GRADE: B

[+] EnlargeRios
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsThe Rangers don't seem likely to pick up Alex Rios' option for next season.
Alex Rios, OF: Hit .224 in his last 66 games and battled ankle and thumb issues in the second half. The Rangers have a $13 million club option they are not likely to pick up. GRADE: D

Mitch Moreland, 1B/DH: He lasted only 52 games before left ankle surgery ended his season. In 2013, he had 23 home runs and 202 total bases. The Rangers need more of that in 2015 if Moreland can return healthy. GRADE: INC

Michael Choice, OF: A strong spring training didn't carry over into the regular season for Choice, who was demoted to Triple-A. He returned to the majors but didn't show much improvement. GRADE: D

J.P. Arencibia, C/1B: He was supposed to be the No. 2 catcher, but he hit just .177 and battled health issues and inconsistency. He had a hot stretch in the second half, during which he led the majors in homers and RBIs over a short period, but he is unlikely to be back. GRADE: D

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Pregame Notes: Alex Rios unsure of a return

September, 22, 2014
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers starting right fielder Alex Rios hasn’t played since Sept. 4 due to complications from an infected right thumb. A 2014 return won’t occur and his long-term future with the club is in doubt.

Rios, who hit a disappointing .224 the last 66 games, has a club option for $13.5 million next season. The club can buy out the deal for $1 million.

While a few weeks ago there was a thought the Rangers were interested in bringing Rios back, it doesn’t appear that way now.

“Not for me to decide, that’s for management to decide,” Rios said Monday before the Rangers took on the Houston Astros.

Rios has endured ankle and thumb issues for the majority of the second half of the season, which have sapped his power and ability to run the bases at times.

He hit .280 this season and produced the third lowest RBI (54) and second-lowest home run (4) totals in his career.

Rios was noncommittal regarding if he wants to return given the injuries he’s suffered.

“It depends on what they decide to do,” he said. “It’s not my call. I have no say in that.”

Rodriguez gets second start: Veteran minor leaguer Guilder Rodriguez, 31, earned his second start in the big leagues on Monday against the Astros where he’s batting ninth and playing third base. Interim manager Tim Bogar said he wanted to play Rodriguez alongside Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor, who all played together in the minor leagues.

“It was just something that when we decided to bring him up,” Bogar said. “It was talked about just because he was with Sardinas and Odor ever since they came over here and he’s been kind of their mentor. It would be really neat to have all three of them out there and we just want to find a spot for that to happen.”

Base Hits: RHP Lisalverto Bonilla will start Wednesday against Houston. ... Bogar said spot starter Scott Baker (stiff neck) is healed up and available to pitch out of the bullpen. ... With Rodriguez playing Monday and Sardinas at short, Elvis Andrus got the day off. Bogar said he’ll return to the lineup Tuesday. ... Shin-Soo Choo, who is recovering from ankle surgery, said he’ll remain in a walking boot for two more weeks.

Elvis Andrus gets day off, season reviewed

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
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ARLINGTON, Texas -– There was a good crowd of reporters around shortstop Elvis Andrus’ locker Tuesday night.


He came out of a hitters' meeting and his name not being in the lineup created a stir.

Interim manager Tim Bogar said there’s nothing wrong with Andrus; he just wanted to get a career minor leaguer, Guilder Rodriguez, into the lineup so he could make his big league debut.

[+] EnlargeElvis Andrus
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsElvis Andrus has hit career lows in runs, RBIs and OBP this season.
And while on the surface there’s nothing wrong with Andrus getting consecutive days off, there are deeper issues here.

“If he’s honest, he will tell you this wasn’t his best year,” Bogar said over the weekend. “It’s frustrating for him, and it’s frustrating for all of us with everything that we’ve gone through. I think getting this year past us and getting the focus back on where we can go as a team is going to help him, too.”

From the moment Andrus arrived in the big leagues in 2009, he’s never had a losing season. He has played in two World Series, has learned about the game from Michael Young and Omar Vizquel and had played for just one manager.

Now he has to become a leader in a season when his team will most likely lose 100 games. He has to be the example for players barely younger than him. In 2014, he’s played with five different second basemen and had to expand his range in the outfield with left fielder Shin-Soo Choo’s sprained ankle limiting his range. He’s even had to go further to center field because of the early struggles of Leonys Martin.

At the plate, Andrus’ runs scored (67), hits (146), RBIs (34) and OBP (.315) are down. He’s hit into a career-high 20 double plays. He's been caught stealing an AL-leading 13 times.

Andrus has battled through inflammation in his right elbow, something that’s been bothering him since spring training. The discomfort comes and goes, and he really needs rest.

So getting this break isn’t a bad thing.

“Oh, yeah, it’s been the same thing all year,” Andrus said. “I’ve been blessed and glad that I’m able to play, and it’s something I need to take care of and come back next year 100 percent.”

The Rangers need him to be 100 percent. There’s Luis Sardinas, who will see time at short when Andrus gets a day off, who the Rangers like.

However, Andrus isn’t going anywhere.

He signed an eight-year contract extension worth $120 million last year. It’s hard to trade a $120 million player coming off a down year.

The Rangers don’t want to trade Andrus because they value him and need assurances he’s OK. The mental portion of this game can wear on you if losing is part of the daily life of the baseball schedule. Andrus is losing the majority of the time now.

“This is one of the first times where he’s had to lead younger players all the time,” Bogar said. “And you can’t discount that. either. That takes a lot of energy sometimes, especially when you play every day. You got to make sure the second baseman is doing everything right, and you got to make sure the other kids are out there doing it correctly and become that kind of guy. He had Young and [Ian] Kinsler to help him through it. And him having to do it has been, I’m sure it’s been mentally adjusting for him, too.”

Andrus needed to make the adjustment from young kid having fun winning baseball games to veteran player who must lead.

This year has been unlike anything he’s seen, and a renewed effort in 2015 is a must, he said.

“Oh, yeah, for sure. Not just for me, the whole organization,” Andrus said. “Sometimes you have to see yourself and say, ‘It’s about the team.’ When we’re losing, no matter if you’re having a good year, still bad for everybody.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There's always something.

With regular catcher Robinson Chirinos out with a stiff neck, the Texas Rangers will turn to emergency catcher J.P. Arencibia for Thursday's series opener against the Seattle Mariners.

Manager Ron Washington wanted to give backup Tomas Telis a day off after the rookie caught the last three games in Kansas City. The last time Arencibia caught was May 20.

"I think the season has worn on everyone," Washington said. "[Chirinos] has as stiff neck, and I just don't know what else to call it."

Washington said there was no discussion to bring up catcher Jorge Alfaro from Double-A Frisco because the RoughRiders are involved in the Texas League playoffs. Alfaro is considered one of the top prospects in the Rangers' minor league system.

Patton arrives with new baby: Among the Rangers call-ups this week was reliever Spencer Patton. To make room on the roster for him, Shin-Soo Choo (elbow) was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Patton was supposed to be here Tuesday, but that plan was delayed because Patton's wife gave birth Tuesday to the couple's first child, Bruer.

"This really hasn't set in yet," Patton said of pitching for the Rangers. "I've been on Cloud 9. I'm excited to be here, and my life couldn't be better."

Patton was acquired in a trade with Kansas City on July 16. While pitching in Triple-A (Round Rock and Omaha), Patton went 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA and 18 saves.

The Rangers have used a major-league record 38 pitchers and 61 players this season. Those record numbers will increase when Patton and another relief pitcher, Lisalverto Bonilla, make their season debuts.

Martin sits against a lefty again: Washington still doesn't trust Leonys Martin against left-handed pitching, so Daniel Robertson was the leadoff hitter against the Mariners' Roenis Elias.

Martin hit .300 on the just-completed 10-game road trip with three RBIs and four runs scored. However, Martin's slash line is .213/.248/.269 against left-handers. Robertson is hitting .355/.430/.461 vs. lefties.

"When I have to, I do," Washington said of using Martin against lefties. "Today I didn't have to. Robertson is doing a good job against those lefties."

Base Hits: Washington said there was nothing new to report on staff ace Yu Darvish, who underwent an exam to his ailing right elbow Thursday. ... Steve Buechele, Round Rock's manager, will be the Rangers' extra coach during the four-game series with the Mariners.
HOUSTON -- Adrian Beltre stood in front of his locker trying to figure out why a few reporters wanted to speak with him on a Thursday night.

One of the few bright spots on this Texas Rangers team, Beltre pulled his bats out of their bag while downplaying the second biggest race this team will deal with in the next 30 days or so: the AL batting title.

Outside of the Silver Boot and avoiding the worst record in baseball, Beltre is competing with Houston's Jose Altuve and Detroit's Victor Martinez for the batting crown.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Beltre
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesWhile the Rangers have had an off season, Adrian Beltre continues to get his work done. "It doesn't matter what the situation [is]; when I'm at home plate, I want to beat the pitcher," he said.
“I have no chance,” Beltre joked. “Altuve, great hitter, Victor Martinez, they’re better hitters than me. I just hope I end up third. I’m hoping I can hang up with them and up there.”

Individual titles and other accomplishments mean little to Beltre, who finished his evening 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to the Astros.

Beltre came in to the game all alone in third place in hitting; now he's tied for third with Robinson Cano of Seattle with a .325 average. Martinez is second at .327 and Altuve -- with his fifth-inning single -- remains in the lead at .332.

Beltre would welcome a first batting crown of his career but doesn't cherish it.

“What is good about this year?” he asked. “I don’t look at it that way. I’m just glad not being one of those guys that got hurt. It’s been so bad that I think that anybody who is healthy is lucky this year. Everything is going south for us, but I don’t look at it as a personal thing. I’m just glad to be out there to contribute and help our team find a way to win ballgames. I’m still trying not to be in last place in this division.”

Injuries have decimated the Rangers this season.

It’s gotten so bad that Yu Darvish, their ace and the best thing going for this team, is out with right elbow inflammation. His season is probably over now, as it should be.

Beltre's season continues as he watches regulars Alex Rios (ankle and thumb) and Elvis Andrus deal with nagging injuries. Shin-Soo Choo is done because he’ll undergo elbow surgery on Friday to remove a bone chip. Choo played the bulk of the season with a sprained ankle, as well.

“Yeah, it’s true, a couple of guys been playing through tough injuries,” Beltre said. “Rios has been playing with ankle and hand injuries; Choo was playing with a bad ankle. For the most part, I’ve been good enough and healthy to be out there every day. Every year through a season, as a player, we always find a way to be out there. Some [injuries] are more difficult to play with. Rios’ is very difficult to play with. He’s trying to battle through it, and we appreciate that. But at the same time, he’s the type of guy who likes to be out there and likes to prove to his teammates that he wants to be out there.”

The batting lineup hasn't provided Beltre much protection. Prince Fielder (neck) and Mitch Moreland (ankle) are done for the season. Rios is having a down season, numbers wise, and GM Jon Daniels is doing all he can to keep this thing together. He’s formulating his plan to improve the club in 2015, and there’s a confidence level he can.

“Besides the difference in protection, the lineup we might have if everybody was healthy and different guys in front of me or behind me hitting, it’s the same stuff,” Beltre said. “I’d still have to do my job every day. It doesn’t matter what the situation [is]; when I’m at home plate, I want to beat the pitcher.

"Because we don’t have the team we’re supposed to have and everything is not going the way we want this year, I’m not going to home plate trying to get an out. It’s not going to happen. I have a job. I don’t think it’s an excuse not to compete well because the team is not doing well.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182