ARLINGTON -- Justin Smoak has been struggling at the plate, but manager Ron Washington keeps putting him in the lineup.Smoak, a switch-hitter, was in the lineup on Wednesday for the 26th straight game since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Smoak went into Wednesday's game with five hits in his last 33 at-bats, dropping his average to .181. "I see a guy who sometimes hits into bad luck, and I see a guy who sometimes gets outside himself," Washington said. "I see him getting too aggressive in situations. At times, he'll give you a great at-bat and sometimes, he gets too aggressive. That's youth. "But we've been winning a lot of games with him in the lineup. Talk about the positives. He draws walks. He continues to turn himself into a not-too-bad of a first baseman." Washington said he is thinking about giving Smoak a day off and it might be in the next two days. The Rangers face left-handed starters in Brian Matusz on Thursday and Ted Lilly on Friday. Smoak, despite being a switch-hitter, is 1-for-25 against left-handers so far. Washington said that if Smoak gets a game off, Joaquin Arias will start at first base. Arias has never played first base at the Major League level, but worked there at Oklahoma City while he was on the disabled list earlier this month. "Joaquin has worked his tail off to become a good first baseman and he's shown we can trust him there," Washington said.
Washington says Andrus is an All-Star
ARLINGTON -- The All-Star Game is still a little less than two months away, but Rangers manager Ron Washington thinks shortstop Elvis Andrus should be there.Andrus will likely have a hard time beating out the ever-popular Derek Jeter for the starting assignment, but Washington has no doubt that Andrus belongs somewhere on the American League roster. "If he keeps this up, they'll be hard-pressed not to make him an All-Star," Washington said before Wednesday's game with the Orioles. Andrus, besides his brilliant fielding, went into Wednesday's game hitting .331, the seventh highest in the league. He was fourth in on-base percentage, tied for fifth in runs scored and tied for third in stolen bases. He led the league with a .481 batting average with runners in scoring position. "I'm not saying he has to maintain his .331 batting average, but if he keeps going like he is, he should be an All-Star," Washington said. Jeter has been elected by the fans as the AL starting shortstop for four straight years. Going into Wednesday's action, he was hitting .268 with a .315 on-base percentage and 26 runs scored. "I've heard a lot about it, but I just go out there every day and play my role," Andrus said. "I don't really think about it. If I get selected, it will be a blessing for me. I'm just worrying about getting wins and getting to the playoffs. That's my main focus and that's my goal right now."
Feliz adjusting quickly to life as closer
ARLINGTON -- Neftali Feliz has learned a couple of important lessons about closing that have helped him settle into the role.First, don't throw long toss every day. Feliz used to do that as a setup reliever, but has stopped throwing so much as a closer. That keeps his arm stronger and allows him to be fresh for back-to-back duties. Feliz pitched two days in a row against the Angels and was still throwing 100 mph in his second appearance on Tuesday night. Second, approach a one-run lead differently than a 2-3 run lead. With a one-run lead, Feliz comes right at hitters with his best fastball. Feliz threw 14 fastballs in 17 pitches while saving an 8-7 win over the Angels on Tuesday. With a two-to-three-run lead, Feliz has a margin for error and is willing to mix in his secondary pitches. "That shows he's learning," Washington said. "With a one-run lead, that shows he's not going to get beat with anything less than his best stuff." Feliz is also far more mentally prepared to be the closer than when he was first thrust into the role early in the season. "At first, it was a shock when they told me I would be the closer," Feliz said. "Now I know I'm the closer and I can be ready mentally. I know what I need to do to be ready."
Harrison to throw live batting practice
ARLINGTON -- Pitcher Matt Harrison, who is on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis in his left arm, is scheduled to throw live batting practice before Thursday's game with the Orioles. If that goes well, Harrison could be sent out on a medical rehabilitation assignment.Harrison, who was 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA in six starts, was placed on the disabled list on May 12, but the inflammation in his arm seems to have gone away. "It is 100 percent," said Harrison, who threw in the bullpen on Tuesday. "I was letting it go 85-90 percent in my last bullpen and it felt good." The Rangers still haven't made any pronouncements as far as Harrison's future role. He was replaced by Derek Holland in the rotation and Harrison could end up in the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list. "The only thing I've been told is, 'I don't know,'" Harrison said. "I guess it's a day-to-day thing."
The Rangers miss Zack Greinke next week in Kansas City. Texas faces Gil Meche on Tuesday and Luke Hochevar on Wednesday. Greinke is scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the Rockies, so the Rangers will miss him unless there is a rainout. ... Washington is sticking with Ian Kinsler in the No. 3 spot and Josh Hamilton hitting fifth. Said Washington on making out his Wednesday lineup: "I didn't even think about it. That's the way it came out when I was making out the lineup." ... Washington said David Murphy will start on Thursday against Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz. Julio Borbon will get the night off. ... Club officials have indicated they have no interest in right-handed slugger Pat Burrell, who was let go by the Rays.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.