Texas Rangers: Mitch Moreland

Rangers react to losing Yu Darvish

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
11:33
PM CT
Yu Darvish AP Photo/Brandon WadeThe Rangers hope Yu Darvish misses only a couple starts; Thursday's MRI may decide.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The news is quite stunning, but the Texas Rangers almost have a calmness about them right now.

The reaction to losing ace Yu Darvish to right-elbow inflammation Wednesday, the eve of a scheduled start, was just another head-shaking moment.

“You don’t get numb to that, when you get news like that,” manager Ron Washington said after the Rangers’ 10-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. “You see who else is available and keep moving on, that’s all you can do.”

Even Darvish seemed pretty calm. He walked through the clubhouse Wednesday night carrying what seemed like a heavy box.

He will undergo an MRI on Thursday, and the Rangers are hoping the results are such that he will miss just two starts and possibly return for a late-August turn in Seattle.

The Rangers have used a club-record 34 pitchers this season, and when they inserted Alex Claudio into the eighth inning Wednesday, the left-handed reliever became the 17th rookie to see the field. That leads the majors.

Washington has seen 24 players go on the DL and currently has 14 sitting there, which also leads the majors.

“It’s nothing new,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “That’s what’s been going on with this team. It sucks that happened to [Darvish]. I don’t think any kind of news is new for us.”

With injuries come young and inexperienced players. Some, who probably need more seasoning in the minors or are journeymen, get significant playing time.

The Rangers have used 56 players this season, a league high and most in franchise history.

The ups and downs started for this clubhouse when lefty starter Derek Holland suffered a knee injury while tripping over his dog and continued with surgeries for Mitch Moreland, Prince Fielder and Jurickson Profar.

Good news around here qualifies as seeing players begin rehab outings, such as Holland, scheduled to pitch Thursday at Triple-A Round Rock -- or Profar, who was fielding grounders at second base three hours before Wednesday's first pitch.

“I’ve been in that boat many times, and we just got to have to chalk it up to just a year of injuries,” said starter Colby Lewis, who has returned from hip and arm surgeries to pitch this season. “You know it sucks. You never think of this many guys going down in one year. But it happens and you got to deal with what we got -- and hopefully a lot of guys get healthy in the offseason and rehab in the offseason and be ready for spring training.”

With Darvish landing on that list, the Rangers keeping their sanity could rest on the hope that he misses just two starts and continues his season.

“It’s just been experience, really,” Washington said. “You take it on and you know for the most part this isn’t something that’s normal. So you deal with it and it’s been a necessity to make the moves we had to make with that pitching staff -- and we’ll continue to do that until there’s no more baseball to be played.”
It didn't come as a surprise, but Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels said Thursday that second baseman Jurickson Profar's season is over. Profar hasn't played this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn teres major muscle in his right shoulder.

Daniels said Profar will undergo a MRI on August 12. If all goes well, Profar will start a throwing program in anticipation of getting ready to play in the instructional league in October.

"Our goal is to get him ready to play this winter," Daniels said in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

Losing Profar pushed another young player, Rougned Odor, to the majors. Odor made his debut May 8 and, at 20 years old and 94 days, was the youngest player to appear in a game this season. Odor has played 60 games at second base this season, more than anybody else on the team. The Rangers have used five second basemen in 2014.

Notes: Daniels also said that third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff had a setback in his recovery from back surgery and had to undergo anorther procedure. He is also done for the year. ... Pitchers Alexi Ogando (elbow) and Tanner Scheppers (elbow) are not expected to return this season. Neither is expected to have surgery. ... Prince Fielder (neck) and Mitch Moreland (left ankle) are also out for the season. "If we had been in the pennant race we could have pushed it [with Fielder]," Daniels said. "It just doesn't make sense based on where we are now."

Rangers hitters struggling

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
11:27
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There is only so much the general manager can do with the roster. The trade deadline is Thursday afternoon and Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels isn’t looking to make upgrades to this roster for a late-season push.

Finding quality prospects to make an impact in the next year or two is the goal.

[+] EnlargeRangers
Rick Yeatts/Getty ImagesThe Rangers' loss to the October-bound A's on Sunday puts them 23 games under .500, and in line for the No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
So what’s left of the Rangers' roster, through the injuries and ineffective play, are nights like this: The Rangers were beaten up pretty badly by a team headed toward October baseball in the Oakland Athletics 9-3 on Sunday night.

At this rate, the Rangers, 23 games under .500, are headed to the No. 1 overall pick in the first-year player draft and thinking about when pitchers and catchers report next February.

Manager Ron Washington is dealing with young, inexperienced pitchers, such as Miles Mikolas, who pitched well in New York on Monday and struggled with his mechanics on Sunday.

Mikolas suffered the loss in going 4⅔ innings, allowing eight runs, seven earned, on seven hits. He walked four and made a costly error by throwing to second base in an attempt to get a force play. The throw sailed wide of Elvis Andrus and it led Washington to second-guess the throw because, simply, it didn’t work out.

“We know and I know especially, young guys, they’re in a process,” Andrus said. “They’re learning about how to pitch and they’re facing different guys every single start and it's always going to be tough for them. Everything they can do is keep pushing and keep trying and at some point they’re going to figure it out.”

The error was part of a five-run second inning, and when you commit miscues against a team like the Athletics, everything goes down from there.

“I wouldn’t say it was the right play; if he hit his mark it would have been an out and the ball just tailed and we couldn’t get to it,” Washington said. “In hindsight, I wish he would have took the out at first base; you had speed on first -- [Craig] Gentry didn’t hit the ball too well and everything had to work out perfect right there. So I’m not going to second-guess what he did; if he hit his mark we would have gotten the out.”

You can’t put everything on Mikolas because at 25 years old, he’s expected to have his share of ups and downs.

The hitters, or what’s left of them, need to provide Washington and Daniels with something more.

Washington doesn’t have Prince Fielder or Mitch Moreland as a first baseman/DH in the lineup. So he turns to men such as J.P. Arencibia, who struck out twice in the third and fifth innings with men on base.

Washington ended Arencibia’s night by pinch hitting for him in the ninth inning. It wasn’t meant as a punishment, just more of giving someone else a chance.

When Arencibia had his own chance he swung and missed on two good pitches from Scott Kazmir to end the third and fifth innings.

“That’s J.P., what you see is what it is,” Washington said of Arencibia now hitting .147 on the season. “It’s something you got to live with.”

The heart of the order did its part in some ways; Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre got on base a combined five times.

Only Beltre scored when he hit a solo shot in the eighth.

“We have to play as a team,” Rios said. “I don’t think you put any kind of pressure on doing something that’s going to be harder to do than usual. We are still playing baseball; it's hard, as you can see, and when you’re losing it makes it a little harder. It’s not much to say. You have to keep grinding.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is proud of his little brother.

He's got good reason to be.

Maddux's younger brother, Greg Maddux, will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, New York. Mike Maddux missed the three-game series against the Oakland Athletics so he could support a man with 355 career victories, four Cy Young Awards and 18 Gold Gloves.

"One man's career comes to a crescendo," Mike Maddux said before heading East. "It is the ultimate pat on the back for a job well done. You make a minor league team, go to the big leagues and make that team. This is the ultimate team to make. He is on a new team, the highest honor you can get."

Greg Maddux is a special assistant to the Rangers, and he makes appearances numerous times during the year to help young pitchers, including Yu Darvish.

"A great guy -- very kind and great at golf," Darvish said with a smile.

Mikolas looks to build: Right-hander Miles Mikolas is scheduled to start Sunday night against the Athletics and lefty Scott Kazmir. In Mikolas' previous start, Monday at New York, he was fantastic and allowed just two runs on four hits in 7⅓ innings in the 4-2 victory over the Yankees. Mikolas, who will make his first career start against the A's, made just 17 starts at the minor league level; Sunday's would be his fifth in the big leagues. One of the things Mikolas is attempting to do is build on what happened in Yankee Stadium.

"Just try to repeat the things that I did in that game to be successful," Mikolas said. "Locate fastball down and away when they need to be there, and execute pitches and stick with the game plan."

Lack of home-run power at The Globe: The Rangers have hit 72 home runs this season, second-fewest in the American League and 27th in baseball. The AL average is 94. Texas lost Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland to injuries and has not replaced that power in the lineup. One would believe the Rangers would at least hit plenty of homers in their own ballpark, it just hasn't been the case. The Rangers have hit 32 at Globe Life Park, while their pitchers have given up 104 total and 51 at home.

"You like to see balls hit out the ballpark on your side," manager Ron Washington said. "It's not necessary -- we just got to string stuff together. [The Athletics] definitely have guys that have the potential to swing the bat and hit it out the ballpark. They’ve shown that all year."

Oakland hit four home runs Saturday night. The Rangers have hit two home runs in the past eight games.

Pregame notes: Holland getting closer

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
5:35
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- LHP Derek Holland (knee) isn't expected to pitch for the Rangers until after the All-Star break. However, he threw 75 pitches in a batting practice session Monday. Holland is scheduled to meet with the Rangers' medical officials Tuesday to determine the next step in his progress.

"I want to get out there and do whatever I can to help the team," said Holland, who hasn't pitched this season due to knee surgery.

Holland said his knee will not be 100 percent this season but that he's feeling comfortable coming off the mound fielding grounders and did so Monday.

"I don't want to show up here and not be ready to go," he said. "I want to be able to see some big league hitters, try to get them out."

The Rangers have to figure out when Holland can get a few minor league appearances in before the All-Star break.

Pena called up: Ron Washington didn't say the Rangers are desperate but the team made a roster move Tuesday afternoon, signing first baseman Carlos Pena from Triple-A Round Rock. Pena was inserted into the No. 6 spot in the lineup and will start at first base.

"He's swinging the bat well and playing first base the way he plays first base and that’s pretty good," Washington said. "Think we just brought in a first baseman that can play first base and he has a presence. He may be a little older but he has presence. If you throw something in the wrong spot, he’s going to hurt you. He knows how to play around that bag (and) his presence is important."

In seven games with Round Rock, Pena had a slash line of .333/.429/.500 with one home run and seven RBIs. Pena is a lifetime .233 hitter and played with Houston and Kansas City last season.

To make room for Pena, the club designated Brad Snyder for assignment

(Read full post)

Extra Bases: Leadoff carousel spins

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas --With the loss of Mitch Moreland to an ankle injury that could have him out anywhere from three to four weeks to three months depending on which surgery he will have, Texas Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo has found his way into the 3-hole in the batting order from his usual leadoff role.

With Choo batting .260, he's really the only fit for the job, Rangers manager Ron Washington said Monday.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre and his team-leading eight home runs will naturally keep his position in the cleanup spot, and Washington said he needs right fielder Alex Rios batting behind Beltre, which eliminates Rios' .335 batting average from 3-hole consideration.

"If I move Rios, I leave Beltre there," Washington said. "[Beltre is] already a bad-ball hitter, then he'd really be swinging at bad balls. At least he has a threat behind him and they have to pick their poison."

So Washington's ongoing dilemma will be filling the leadoff spot with whomever he sees as the best option from a pool of players that includes Daniel Robertson, Rougned Odor, Luis Sardinas and Michael Choice -- none of whom stands out as the everyday guy, Washington said.

(Read full post)

Thoughts with 99 games left in the season

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers have now played 63 games, meaning they've got less than 100 left -- 99 to be exact -- in the season. The baseball season is no longer early. Teams have a better idea who they are, though most won't determine whether they are contenders or not until right before the trade deadline.

So, with nearly 39 percent of the season completed, a few thoughts on this Rangers team and the AL West:

[+] EnlargeShin-Soo Choo
AP Photo/Paul SancyaChoo was signed to hit leadoff, but with so much turnover in the heart of the lineup, the Rangers would be smarter to slot him third.
• The first 10 weeks of the season are over, which also gives us an idea of the competition in the AL West. The Oakland A's are one of the top teams in the AL and have done it on the strength of the best road record in the league. Much like the Rangers used to do when winning the AL West in 2010 and 2011, they are also beating the division teams to bolster that record. Despite injuries to two members of the starting rotation earlier this year, the A's keep pitching and finding a way to deliver clutch hits. They're the team to beat in the division.

• Are the Los Angeles Angels lurking? It seems that just as Los Angeles looks primed to go on a run, they stall. An 11-17 mark against the AL West hasn't helped, yet they still sit 4½ behind and would be in the playoffs as a wild-card team if the postseason started today. Josh Hamilton has dealt with injuries (I know, that's not breaking news), but when he has played, he's played well. That lineup overall is producing more than last year, hence the reason they are playing better.

Shin-Soo Choo has to be the 3-hole hitter. There's just no choice. I know the manager likes Choo's approach and what he does better at the leadoff spot, but what other viable option does he have? Choo's numbers aren't bad in the 3-spot -- he's hit .280 in seven games with three extra-base hits -- but he was signed to lead off. Still, everyone has to adjust. When Choo bats third, Michael Choice usually leads off. With the Kendrys Morales signing in Minnesota, there aren't any reinforcements likely coming, so Washington will have to continue to try to mix and match and see what happens.

(Read full post)

Rangers try to press on despite injuries

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
5:58
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Manager Ron Washington is fond of saying that the schedule doesn't stop so injured teams can recover. It doesn't play favorites or do anyone any favors.

So on a day when the club announced that first baseman Mitch Moreland will undergo ankle surgery that will keep him out three months and Rougned Odor sprained a shoulder that has him listed as day-to-day but getting evaluated further on Monday, the manager wasn't in a mood to give up.

[+] EnlargeOdor
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsOdor went down on the same day as Moreland, but his prognosis with a shoulder injury is not as grave as the first baseman's.
"You have to work as usual and come in and prepare to play a ballgame," Washington said after Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. "That's all you can do. They're quite aware of what we've lost around here, but it gives other players an opportunity to step up. We're doing that.

"I don't want to seem like I don't care, but we've got [99] ballgames to play. I've got to focus on the games that we're playing right now with the personnel I have right now. I do believe this personnel, if we can get consistent, can win us some ballgames. So we'll just keep preparing and keep going out there and battling. We played a very competitive game today and they beat us."

(Read full post)

Mitch Moreland: 'I tried to fight through it'

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
12:46
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mitch Moreland's disappointment was obvious in the clubhouse on Sunday morning. His left ankle, a persistent problem that would not go away, finally got the best of him.

SportsNation

Who should be the Rangers' first baseman?

  •  
    31%
  •  
    13%
  •  
    14%
  •  
    21%
  •  
    21%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,371)

He said he had two injections (the last one lasting about five days) and went through a battery of treatment options in an attempt to keep playing, but the ankle just wasn't responding. He said he'll have surgery on Wednesday to get it repaired. The timetable to return to the big leagues is three months.

"It's to the point where I'm hurting the team, hurting myself trying to go out there and make something happen," Moreland said. "There's no lower half. I'm doing everything I can and trying to battle through it, but it's to the point where it's affecting me trying to go out and play. It's hurting pretty bad. The surgery, I tried to fight it off until the end of the year. I knew I was going to have to have surgery. They told me you can do everything you can to try to get to the end of the year. I can't do it any more. I'm going to try to get back healthy and get ready to go."

Moreland said he doesn't think it was one particular event, though he said he sprained it while the club was in Seattle in late April and that the ankle swelled up on him. Moreland was hitting .246 with two homers and 23 RBIs and was getting the bulk of the playing time with Prince Fielder likely out for the rest of the season.

"I've tried to fight through it because of what we've dealt with this year," Moreland said. "I felt like I was obligated to the team to go out there and give it what I had. I felt like I did that for the most part. It came to a point where I can't do it anymore."

Wash wary of Odor's potential HR fever

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
2:01
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rougned Odor touched off a two-run home run in the second inning that traveled an estimated 409 feet in the Rangers' 6-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Friday.

Manager Ron Washington said in his pregame media conference Saturday that he wanted to head off thoughts that his 5-foot-11, 170-pound second baseman should now be swinging for the fences after clubbing his second long ball of the season.

Perhaps Washington was thinking back to Odor’s final two plate appearances Friday, both of which ended in strikeouts.

The manager made it clear that while Odor is strong enough to hit the ball out of the park, there are other aspects that he wants his 20-year-old second baseman to focus on.

“We need him to catch the ball and make plays," Washington said. “I’m not excited about [home runs]. I'm excited about the way he’s playing."

Odor’s first home run at Houston on May 12 traveled 431 feet. But in the five games that followed, Odor went just 1-for-12. At the end of the slump, Odor was out of the starting lineup in three of four games.

Washington expects Odor to benefit by seeing teams a second time.

“He’s still adjusting,"Washington said the manager. “He’ll learn what they’re trying to do to him. He is good enough to make adjustments."

Moreland drops: Mitch Moreland, mired in a 7-for-40 slump, drops from third in the batting order to sixth for today’s 3:05 p.m. start against Cleveland at Globe Life Park. Moreland became a regular in the third spot when Prince Fielder was placed on the disabled list on May 22.

Washington said he wanted to give Moreland a little break and bunch the guys that are swinging the bat well. Shin-Soo Choo will bat third, and Michael Choice, who has homered in consecutive games, inherits Choo’s normal leadoff spot. Choo, like Moreland, has struggled of late, batting .170 in his last 14 games to drop his average 34 points to .276.

Plaudits for Darvish: The way Yu Darvish was able to recover from a shaky three-run third inning in gaining his sixth win on Friday impressed his manager.

Without the kind of stuff that he had in a 2-0 shutout against the Nationals on Sunday, Darvish managed his pitch count in the middle innings and gave his team seven innings.

“That’s when you see what a pitcher is made of," Washington said. “He was able to gather himself and stay in the game. After the third inning, I wasn’t sure he’d be around."

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Orioles 6

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
10:18
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers won the final game of the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. A few thoughts:

How it happened: Texas blew a 5-0 lead, but scored three runs in the seventh inning -- thanks in large part to Orioles mistakes -- and held on for the 8-6 victory.

What it means: The Rangers avoid a sweep and also get back to .500 for the season at 30-30. The Oakland Athletics lost to the New York Yankees, so the Rangers are now seven games back. They also are 14-15 at home.

Quick start: The first four batters for the Rangers reached base on Thursday and two of them scored on Mitch Moreland's single to left field. Texas had a chance to make it an even bigger inning but couldn't do it after Alex Rios struck out and Chris Gimenez hit into a double play. Still, Colby Lewis was handed an early lead.

Other way: Moreland, hitting just .182 in his last eight games prior to Thursday, didn't try to do too much on a 2-2 pitch. He shortened his swing and hit it to the left side of the infield, beating the shift (the ball bounded past where the shortstop normally would have been) for the two-run single.

Choice cut: Michael Choice blasted a two-run homer in the second inning, hitting it into the Rangers’ bullpen. It was Choice's fourth homer of the season and 20th and 21st RBIs. He has reached base in seven of his last nine games in the midst of some overall struggles. He was batting just .202 coming into the game.

Poor play: Leonys Martin made a bad decision in the third inning, attempting to steal third base with two outs. Martin had just stolen second base with Choice at the plate. But he then tried to steal third and was thrown out easily to end the inning. You hear coaches and managers talk about it all the time: Don't get thrown out at third to end an inning. Martin did, eliminating a chance for Choice to drive him in.

Lewis lets lead slip: Given a 5-0 lead, Colby Lewis wasn't able to hold it. He gave up two runs in the third and three in the fifth to allow the Orioles to tie the score. Adam Jones had two RBIs on a double to center with two outs in the inning. Martin took an odd route to the ball, tried to dive and then couldn't come up with it. Chris Davis, the former Rangers first baseman, singled home Jones to tie the score. Lewis finished giving up five earned runs on seven hits in five innings.

Orioles mistakes help Rangers: Baltimore's J.J. Hardy had a rough night, committing a career-high three errors. He had two costly ones in the seventh. Rougned Odor got a hit, then went to second on Hardy's wide throw. He advanced to third on Shin-Soo Choo's grounder and scored when Hardy couldn't handle the bouncer to short off the bat of Elvis Andrus. Odor scored the go-ahead run. The Rangers added from there as Adrian Beltre, Rios and Gimenez hit three straight singles to score two more runs.

Scheppers back in eighth: So much for easing Tanner Scheppers into the bullpen. With the Rangers up 8-5, Scheppers came in to handle the eighth inning, a role he had last season. The 27-year-old, fresh off the disabled list, gave up a leadoff home run to Jones but ended up getting a double play to end the frame with Rangers lead 8-6.

Briefly: Robbie Ross pitched two scoreless innings in a tie game. It was his third straight inning of scoreless relief. … Everybody in the starting lineup but Choo had a hit. … Former Rangers OF Nelson Cruz struck out three times against Lewis. … Officially, there were 770 dogs in attendance on Bark at the Park night.

Up next: Yu Darvish takes a 5-2 mark and a 2.08 ERA to the mound Friday against the Cleveland Indians and right-hander Trevor Bauer (1-2, 3.63 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. CT on TXA21 and ESPN 103.3 FM.

Skipper trying to create offensive spark

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
11:27
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -– Manager Ron Washington is trying anything and everything -- conventional and unconventional -– to try to get his injury-riddled lineup to score runs in key situations.

He put on the bunt sign with the No. 6 hitter at the plate and a runner at first with no outs and his team down by one in the eighth on Wednesday. The skipper was willing to concede an out to put Alex Rios in scoring position with the bottom of the order coming up. Why?

“Trying to get back in the ballgame,” said Washington, whose Texas Rangers fell 6-5 to the Baltimore Orioles. “That’s why I did it. [Darren] O’Day is a ground-ball pitcher who’s very tough on right-handers. It wasn’t a very good matchup. So I’m trying to get a runner in scoring position and hope someone can deliver.”

[+] EnlargeDonnie Murphy
AP Photo/Sharon EllmanDonnie Murphy's bunt attempt was one of several maneuvers Ron Washington tried in order to spark the offense.
They couldn’t. Donnie Murphy’s bunt attempt wasn’t hit far enough in front of the plate and catcher Caleb Joseph pounced on it and threw Rios out at second base. Leonys Martin and Robinson Chirinos both got out quickly, ending the threat without ever getting a runner into scoring position.

“It was a tough guy to bunt off of and I didn’t get the job done,” Murphy said of O'Day's submarine pitching motion. “It happens. It was bad execution.”

In the ninth inning, still down by a run, Washington pinch hit for No. 3 hitter Mitch Moreland. How many teams are pinch hitting for the No. 3 hitter?

But with the state of the Rangers’ lineup, the manager had his reasons. There was a lefty on the mound, Orioles’ closer Zach Britton, and Washington figured he’d give Michael Choice, a right-handed batter, a shot over Moreland, who has struggled to hit lefties in his career. Of course, Choice was hitting just .203 coming into the game.

Such is life when Prince Fielder, the power hitter who was supposed to come up in a game-defining moment like that, is recovering from season-ending surgery.

Choice struck out to end the game. It came after Elvis Andrus had bunted his way on to lead off the inning, only to have Shin-Soo Choo hit into a double play on the next pitch to create an audible sigh among those still remaining at Globe Life Park.

“I’ve put on a bunch of hit-and-runs, we just haven’t been able to make the contact it takes to make them successful,” Washington said. “I’m trying to put the guys that swing the bat for us in position so they can drive in runs. It just hasn’t been happening. We’ll keep grinding and we’ll put it together. That’s all you can do.”

Washington is constantly rearranging his lineup and trying to figure out who can play in certain spots and how he can help the bats generate a spark. Some things don’t change, such as Adrian Beltre hitting in the middle of the order. Beltre had two home runs and all five Rangers RBIs and it wasn’t enough on Wednesday.

But the manager has to flip and flop and jumble parts of the rest of it. All the while, he’s willing to take some chances with putting runners on the move or getting them into position where the few RBI producers he has left can try to cash them in.

“He’s got to do what he’s got to do,” Murphy said of Washington. “I’m pretty sure this is not the lineup he was originally thinking of to start the year. So he has to mix and match and put people in situations where he thinks they can succeed and help the team. Right now, every day he has to do something different and we have to do our job. We can’t worry about where we’re hitting in the lineup. We just have to get our job done. We have to start doing that and I think we will.”

It didn’t work on Wednesday. But the manager won’t stop pushing buttons and trying whatever he can to help push this offense along. Without the big bats to do it for him, he doesn’t have much choice.

Elvis Andrus' day off was manager's call

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
5:08
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington felt shortstop Elvis Andrus looked sluggish on Tuesday, one day after the club was off on Monday, and decided to give him a day off tonight.

"It could be the day off that made him sluggish," Washington said. "I just felt he needed a day. He needed a day."

Andrus says he feels good and was surprised he wasn't in the lineup. But Andrus was 0-for-5 on Tuesday, including an 0-for-3 mark with runners in scoring position. He also made an ill-advised throw to third even though he had no chance to get the runner on a tough ground ball. Perhaps the skipper wants to see Andrus get another mental break.

Andrus was off last Thursday, the first time he's been on the bench all season. The club also got Monday off. So this should allow Andrus plenty of rest and the ability to play a bunch of games coming up. That includes seven more games on this homestand and nine on the west coast.

With Andrus sitting out, Washington also decided to give Adrian Beltre a half-day by making him the DH. That leaves an infield of Mitch Moreland at first, Rougned Odor at second, Luis Sardinas at shortstop and Donnie Murphy at third base. Beltre had started the last 36 straight games at third base.

Extra Bases: Backup first baseman on way?

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was a busy Tuesday for Jim Adduci. The outfielder spent the afternoon working out at first base with manager Ron Washington.

The skipper was going over footwork and positioning with Adduci, giving him a crash course before Adduci's first exam in Double-A Frisco on Tuesday night.

The 29-year-old, who is working his way back from a fractured little finger on his left hand, will likely see a number of rehab games at first base in the hopes that when he returns to the big league club he can back up Mitch Moreland.

Since the injury and subsequent surgery for Prince Fielder that most likely ended his season, the Rangers haven't had a true backup at the position. Washington has used Donnie Murphy, who had to borrow a first base glove from catcher Chris Gimenez, to play on Sunday to give Moreland a break. But Adduci offers the possibility of a big target at first -- he's listed at 6-foot-2 -- and a left-handed bat.

Adduci is itching to return.

"I feel like a kid who was in timeout," Adduci said. "It's going to be a little sore, but who isn't sore at this point?"

Adduci is glad to get the opportunity to play first, which he believes will make him more versatile.

RISP struggles: The bullpen was in the spotlight on Tuesday after turning a 2-2 game into an 8-3 defeat in the eighth inning. But it's worth noting that the pitchers didn't get much help from the bats. Texas is now 10-for-59 with runners in scoring position the last seven game. They were 0-for-7 in those situations on Tuesday.

Musical bullpen chairs: The Rangers may be getting some reinforcements in the bullpen soon. Tanner Scheppers had a six-pitch rehab outing in Double-A Frisco and Neftali Feliz has pitched well in Triple-A. That means the club will have some decisions to make when they return. Shawn Tolleson has options, but has been solid lately. Robbie Ross has struggled, but optioning him means the club would be down one lefty in the bullpen. Alexi Ogando has been inconsistent as well.

Darvish pitches Friday: The Rangers have decided to keep Yu Darvish on his normal schedule even with Monday's off day. So he'll start Friday against the Cleveland Indians.

"If we get another day off, he may get an extra day," Washington said. "He didn’t throw that many pitches on Sunday, so that’s good."

Darvish threw 102 pitches in eight shutout innings in a win Sunday over Washington. It was his fourth start of at least seven shutout innings on the season, tied for the second-most in the majors behind St. Louis' Adam Wainwright.

Choo, Moreland feeling better: Washington rested both Shin-Soo Choo and Moreland on Sunday to give their ankles a break. Both have been playing through soreness and the manager wanted to take advantage of Monday's off day, essentially giving both two full days off.

"It feels a lot better," Choo said of his ankle. "It's the best it's felt since I hurt it."

Moreland said he used the day to take it easy, noting that with a lot of day games on the 11-game road trip, he felt his body would be better served by taking a break rather than work in the cages.

Choo was the DH on Tuesday as Washington gave him another half-day off.

Martinez grinding: Nick Martinez talks a lot about what he's learning in his first extended period in the big leagues. He'll be back on the mound tonight for the second game of this three-game set with the Orioles and is hoping to bounce back from last week, when he allowed four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Minnesota Twins.

"You have days like that and you have to do what you can to battle," Martinez said. "You won't always have your best stuff. You have to grind it out and keep the team in it."

Martinez is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 games (five starts). He goes up against right-handed pitcher Bud Norris at 7:05 p.m. CT.

Many 'what ifs' as Cruz comes to Texas

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
7:30
AM CT
Nelson CruzCharles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsNelson Cruz leads the big leagues with 20 homers and 52 RBIs and is sporting a .314 average.
At this moment, Texas Rangers fans don't know when or if Nelson Cruz will face his former team in a three-game series set to start tonight in Arlington. Blame another former Ranger: Scott Feldman. The right-hander hit Cruz on the hand and while X-rays were negative, it's uncertain whether he'll play in Tuesday's game.

SportsNation

Which Ranger most deserves to be an All-Star?

  •  
    4%
  •  
    17%
  •  
    31%
  •  
    34%
  •  
    14%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,568)

But it's difficult not to imagine what the Rangers' lineup would be like with Cruz in it. Of all the moves the Rangers didn't make this offseason, that's the one I hear the most about from fans.

It was a crazy offseason for Cruz, who entered the marketplace amid reports that he was seeking something in the four-year, $75 million range. That came after Texas made a one-year qualifying offer of $14.3 million, which Cruz rejected as expected. Texas wasn't ever going to enter the fray in the four-year range. Turns out, no other team would, either. The waiting went from weeks to months for Cruz, who ended up having to look at one-year deals in an effort to increase his value for next offseason.

Jon Daniels, in a recent interview on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, said the club offered Cruz a multi-year deal at the Winter Meetings, but that at spring training there were "other factors at play." The decision to sign Shin-Soo Choo this offseason was a considerable financial commitment. And it signaled the club was looking in other directions. They gave Choo No. 17, which Cruz wore while in Texas, and they revamped the lineup. The signing meant the team lost a first-round pick in this week's draft, but they would gain one with Cruz's departure.

"We made the decision that we did to give our own guys an opportunity and keep the draft pick," Daniels said on 103.3 FM. "Nellie got a deal in Baltimore and is having a nice year."

It's June 3, but so far Cruz has accomplished his mission of increasing his value. The Rangers were still in on Cruz once the price dropped, but the Orioles made the one-year, $8 million offer and Cruz liked the idea of playing in Camden Yards, a park that clearly suits him. The Rangers made a last-minute offer, but envisioned Cruz as a DH. So he went to Baltimore, where the park and the playing time intrigued him.

In the process, it's Baltimore that has one of the best bargains of the offseason. Would things have been different had the Rangers offered more money on a one-year deal? Or would it have taken a more lucrative multi-year offer for a player who would have had to be willing to play DH? It's difficult to know. But there would have been more teams willing to take the chance on more than a one-year offer had they expected Cruz to hit like this. He leads the big leagues with 20 homers and 52 RBIs and is sporting a .314 average.

What's interesting is that Cruz has more homers on the road (13 in 32 games) than at home (seven in 22 games), despite the advantage of Camden Yards. He's hitting, it seems, no matter where the Orioles are playing.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.322 17 64 64
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 64
RA. Beltre 64
OPSA. Beltre .876
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182