Sunday, October 23, 2011
Moreland starts at first base for Rangers
By David Schoenfield
A day after Mike Napoli's throwing error led to two unearned runs, Mitch Moreland is back at first base for the Texas Rangers, making his first postseason start since Game 5 of the ALCS and only his second since Game 2 of the ALCS.
Moreland is considered a better defensive first baseman than either Napoli or Michael Young, who will DH in Game 4 with Napoli moving back behind the plate. Moreland's playing time decreased after a slow start to his postseason; he's hitting 2-for-19. Ron Washington said before Game 4 that Moreland had lost his stroke a bit, but has been working with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. "Coolbaugh is letting me know now, everybody else that's been working with him is letting me know that he feels like he's found it back, so I'm giving him a shot tonight."
The Rangers will also move David Murphy up to seventh in the lineup, with Napoli hitting eighth and Moreland ninth. Washington wanted to break up the left-handed bats of Murphy and Moreland.
Seems like all the moves make sense. Washington (A) improves his defense at first base; (B) gets another left-handed bat in the lineup against Edwin Jackson; and (C) makes it a little more difficult for Tony La Russa to match up lefties Marc Rzepczynski or Arthur Rhodes against the Murphy/Moreland combo, neither hits lefties well.
Washington also said he spoke with Alexi Ogando before the game and said, "Mentally, he's fine." As for his availability after throwing 34 pitches in Game 3, Washington said they would see how he feels after the usual pregame long toss. He said every other reliever is available.