Notes: Byrd credits hitting coach
Outfielder is hitting .400 during the month of June
ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Marlon Byrd has been the hottest hitter for the Rangers this month. Byrd is hitting .400 (28-for-70) with 13 runs scored and 11 RBIs in the month of June. Byrd credits hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo for his success."I can't explain it in words," Byrd said before Saturday's game against Houston. "Whatever you do as a hitter, he just makes you better. He's always pinpointing little things. He doesn't let you slip. It seems like the last couple of years, I've gone into a funk. He's making sure [I don't]." Byrd was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma May 26, and has hit .370 with two home runs and 14 RBIs since. Byrd hit a 449-foot monster shot into Houston's bullpen Friday, tied for the sixth longest in Rangers Ballpark history. Despite hitting cleanup Saturday, Byrd said his approach hasn't changed. "I never try to hit home runs," Byrd said. "For me, as a hitter, home runs are overrated. I leave it to the rest of the guys. If I get my 10 to 15, [that's] great. If not, I'm just going to work on getting hits." Manager Ron Washington said putting Byrd in the cleanup spot had more to do with him hitting well, than with his power. "He's capable of hitting it out of the park, but Marlon is not a home run hitter," Washington said. "He's an all-around-the-field type of hitter. I've told Marlon, I don't expect him to hit home runs. I expect him to swing the bat the way he's capable of swinging the bat." NL love: The Rangers are 10-6 against the National League Central entering Saturday's game. Washington said his squad is just playing good baseball. "The way we've been playing, I'd take it against anybody," he said. "As long as we pitch, I'll take my chances against anybody. But, it's not the first time I've been a part of beating up on the National League." Washington's former team, the Oakland Athletics, were 16-2 last year in Interleague Play. "I certainly like playing in their parks," Washington said. "I like their baseball. In the National League, you get the opportunity to keep everyone involved. At some point, you're going to need everybody." Cruz improving: Outfielder Nelson Cruz, who was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma June 5, has been hitting the ball well for the Red Hawks. Since his demotion, Cruz is hitting .356 with seven home runs and 14 RBIs in 45 at-bats through 14 games. Cruz was hitting .183 for the Rangers when he was sent down.
"He's doing exactly what he's supposed to do," Washington said. "Go down there and force his way back. I'm happy for Nelson -- I hope he's getting his confidence back. We'll see him again."Although Cruz has been impressive for Oklahoma, Washington said it doesn't look like the Rangers will see him anytime soon. "Someone up here is going to have to fall on their face," Washington said. "I don't see Kenny [Lofton] falling on his face. Don't see [Frank Catalanotto] falling on his face. Byrd's doing a good job. I'm happy for Cruz. He needs to get his confidence back and when we feel he's ready to be back here, he'll be back here." He said it: "He's a leader and everyone looks to the leader. If the leader is getting it done, then they want to get it done too. No one wants to be the one that don't get it done when things are going good. It breeds confidence." -- Washington, on starter Kevin Millwood's recent success Friday's Minor League top performers:
Gold: Mike Wood went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts as Oklahoma beat Albuquerque, 5-2. Wood is 6-1 on the season and it was his seventh consecutive quality start. Silver: Class A Clinton starter Zachary Phillips allowed one hit over six innings with eight strikeouts. He improved to 7-2 on the season, leading Clinton to a victory over Kane County, 4-0. Bronze: First baseman Michael Ortiz went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs as the Arizona League Rangers won their first game of the year against the Arizona League Royals, 9-6. Briefly: Class A Bakersfield right-hander Bear Bay was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. ... Class A Clinton left-hander Michael Ballard transferred to Bakersfield. ... Pitcher Josh Lueke transferred from Class A Spokane to Clinton. ... Shortstop Joaquin Arias, who has been on the disabled list since Spring Training with a shoulder injury, is expected to begin a medical rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma on Sunday. Up next: The Rangers wrap up their series with the Astros Sunday at 7:35 p.m. CT at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Right-hander Robinson Tejeda takes the hill for the Rangers against right-hander Chris Sampson.
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.