HOUSTON -- A day off for Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus gives him extra time to do something he really enjoys. That's watch World Cup soccer on the clubhouse television."Soccer is really important to me," said Andrus, who is from Venezuela. "I love soccer. I played soccer until I was 16 and I signed with the Braves. They didn't let me play anymore. But I always loved soccer. I'd rather watch soccer than baseball on TV." Andrus played on his city team. He didn't play for his country, because that's a year-round endeavor and that would have meant skipping baseball. But he was a forward who scored the winning goal to win the championship in his last season in high school. "It was a header," Andrus said. "I had never done that before. It was my first one with my head. Before when I tried a header, it would go all over the place. That one was perfect." Andrus is now a stand-out defensive player for the Rangers and he gives much credit to soccer. "Oh yes, coordination, footwork, everything, it really helped me a lot," Andrus said. "I played basketball, too. All different kinds of sports help you, but soccer is my favorite." And who does he want to win the World Cup? "I hope Brazil for sure," Andrus said. "I like the way they play. They are the best."
Washington wants Rangers to add a pitcher
HOUSTON -- Rangers starters went into Sunday's game with a record of 11-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 18 games so far in June. That's not bad, considering they had to put two starters on the disabled list this month because of injuries to Derek Holland (shoulder inflammation) and Rich Harden (strained gluteus muscle).But the Rangers' success hasn't changed manager Ron Washington's feelings about his team's needs. "We could use another front-line starter," Washington said. "If we don't get one, we'll go with the guys we have. But we certainly could use another front-line starter." The Rangers are one starter short right now. Dustin Nippert was available in the bullpen on Sunday, but if not used, he'll start on Wednesday against the Pirates. "I know one thing, he'll give us everything he has," Washington said. "At least he has better preparation time. It's not the day before. He should have better success than in Florida." Nippert, after 22 relief appearances, made his first start of the season on Thursday against the Marlins and lasted three innings. Nippert threw a season-high 74 pitches and allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four. The Rangers still prevailed with a 6-4 victory.
Rangers give Andrus a break
HOUSTON -- Elvis Andrus, who has started 64 of the Rangers' first 68 games, was out of the lineup on Sunday. Andres Blanco started at shortstop for the Rangers.Andrus is hitless in his past 10 at-bats and has just two hits in his past 29 at-bats. With the Rangers being off on Monday, Andrus will get two days in a row before returning to the lineup on Tuesday against the Pirates at the Ballpark in Arlington. "He has been grinding, and the last thing I want to do is let it get into his head," manager Ron Washington said. "It's just natural fatigue. You get fatigued and you try to do more, and everything you do, it just doesn't work. Fatigue makes you do more than you should." Andrus' on-base percentage as a leadoff hitter has slipped to .348, the fourth best in the American League. "Right now, I'm trying to hurry and do things that I don't do all the time," Andrus said. "Today, they decided to get me back on track. It happens during the season -- you're doing good, you're doing bad. I don't really feel my swing is the way it used to be right now. "I'm missing a lot of fastballs. I'm fighting a little bit right now. This day off and tomorrow will help me get back on track. I don't see anything bad. Right now, the team's playing great baseball."
Cruz getting closer to returning Tuesday
HOUSTON -- Nelson Cruz, on the disabled list because of a torn left hamstring, was 0-for-3 with a walk on Saturday in his second game on medical rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City.He is 1-for-6 with two walks in two games at Oklahoma City. Cruz was used at designated hitter on Saturday. He will play the outfield on Sunday, and if all goes well, he will be activated on Tuesday. "Cruz is doing well," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't heard any complaints about anything. He's running everything out and running good in the outfield. He's good. If he makes it through today, we'll have him back starting Tuesday." The Rangers are planning to option outfielder Craig Gentry back to Oklahoma City when Cruz is ready. Gentry, going into Sunday's game, had played in 19 games with Texas and was hitting .219 with seven hits in 32 at-bats. The Rangers prefer to go with two extra infielders in Joaquin Arias and Andres Blanco and one backup outfielder in David Murphy. "Gentry needs to play baseball," Washington said. "Having him here through the National League is fine. But we're going back to playing the AL. In the National League games, I could use him to keep him short. Once we get back to the AL, there is nobody I can pinch-hit him for."
Lewis' gem keeps him among league leaders
HOUSTON -- Colby Lewis' complete-game two-hitter on Saturday night allowed him to maintain his standing among the best pitchers in the American League. When they come to selecting pitchers for the All-Star Game, Lewis could have an excellent set of credentials to be considered.Lewis has now held opponents to a .187 batting average, the lowest in the AL. Boston's Jon Lester is second with a .206 average. The lowest by a Rangers pitcher was a .172 average by Nolan Ryan in 1991. Opponents are hitting .143 off Lewis with runners in scoring position. That's the third lowest in the league behind Jason Vargas (.117) of Seattle and David Price (.132) of Tampa Bay. The lowest in club history is .157, set by Ryan in 1990. Lewis is also 10th in the league with a 3.07 ERA, seventh with 93 2/3 innings pitched and sixth with 90 strikeouts. He is fourth in allowing 9.61 baserunners per nine innings and his 6.05 hits per nine innings is the lowest in the league. Lewis walked none and struck out nine in a 5-1 victory over the Astros on Saturday. The last Rangers pitcher throw a complete game with two hits or fewer, no walks and at least nine strikeouts was Ferguson Jenkins on Aug. 31, 1974, against Cleveland.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.