Rangers want Francisco comfortable
Pitcher to work in non-pressure situations
CLEVELAND -- Rangers manager Ron Washington has a plan for reliever Frank Francisco.Right now he wants to use Francisco in the sixth or seventh inning -- preferably in non-pressure situations -- while he gets himself together. "Hopefully it will be in a game where he can establish himself and if something happens, he doesn't have to worry about it," Washington said before Monday's game against the Indians. "The key is to get Frankie right. It will be tough for us to be as consistent as we need to be without Frankie. "What we've been seeing is not Frankie. We need to see Frankie. I don't see that animal, the guy who when he takes the ball and goes toward home plate says the game is over. We've got to get him back." Washington said on Sunday that he was moving Neftali Feliz into the closer's role after Francisco suffered two blown saves last week in his first two opportunities. Washington hasn't committed to that being a permanent arrangement. "Let's let this play out," Washington said. "The ninth inning is not as easy as you think. He hasn't had an opportunity yet." Francisco allowed three runs in the ninth inning in a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday and again in a 4-3 loss to the Mariners on Saturday. "I feel good," Francisco said. "He's the manager. He's the one that makes that decision. There's nothing I can do about it. He's making the decision to help the team out and help me out. "But everything is good. I'm the same guy. I haven't changed at all. I just need to keep making pitches and I'll get guys out."
Arias continues to play
CLEVELAND -- Joaquin Arias started at second base on Monday for the fourth straight day. It's an important assignment because Ian Kinsler's return is not imminent. In fact, it could be at least two more weeks before he's back.Kinsler is still not running 100 percent on his sprained right ankle. The Rangers were hoping he could be ready for a medical rehabilitation assignment by the end of this week, but that's unlikely. It's more likely that won't happen until next week when the Rangers begin a three-game series with the Red Sox in Boston. Kinsler will also likely need a week on rehab since he has been sidelined since March 12. The Rangers want him to play nine innings in consecutive games. Arias and Andres Blanco began the season sharing the position while Kinsler remains on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle. But Arias was back in the lineup on Monday because he had eight singles in his last 12 at-bats. "I'm just riding the hot hand," Washington said. "It's hard to take him out right now." The tough decision will come once Kinsler returns. Arias has earned playing time at second base but Washington's prime pre-requisite for a utility infielder is being able to play defense at shortstop. Blanco still has the advantage in that regard. That includes at second base. Washington likes inserting Blanco for Arias on defense at second late in the game. Washington said Blanco has the stronger arm and that could make a big difference in a closer game on cutoffs and relays from the outfield.
'Great memories' for Garko in Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- Ryan Garko returned home on Monday. He was just in a different clubhouse. The Rangers backup first baseman began his career with the Indians as their third-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Stanford University.He made his Major League debut with the Indians in 2005 and was their starting first baseman in 2007-08. But the Indians traded him to the Giants on July 27, 2009, for Minor League pitcher Scott Barnes. "It's great to be back," Garko said. "I have a lot of great memories and it's great to see the guys. I loved it here. We won a lot of games. I played hard, but it will be weird coming out of the other dugout." Garko's first full season was 2007 when he hit .261 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs. He also hit .314 in the postseason when the Indians won the American League Central and took the Red Sox to seven games. But the Indians fell out of contention the next season, pitcher CC Sabathia was traded and the club has been in a rebuilding mode since then. "It just didn't click after '07," Garko said. "In '07 a lot of things went our way. CC was the first domino to fall and the team started breaking up after that. You just can't replace a guy like that." Washington said Garko will likely start on Thursday against Indians left-hander David Huff.
CLEVELAND -- Vladimir Guerrero's 12 hits in the first six games are the most ever for any player in his first six games with the Rangers. ... Rangers starters, going into Monday, had a 1.67 ERA in their first six games. That was a full run lower than the next-best team in the Majors. White Sox starters had a 2.77 ERA. ... The lowest ERA by the Rangers rotation through the first six games was 1.37, but the 1976 unit of Gaylord Perry, Jim Umbarger, Bill Singer, Nelson Briles and Steve Barr.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.