ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers have been winning on the field and packing the stands with fans, and they are also continuing to climb in the television ratings. Monday's contest against the Rays in St. Petersburg averaged a 7.1 Nielson rating on Fox Sports Southwest over the final two hours and 15 minutes of the Rangers' 6-4 loss, peaking at 9.0 from 8:45-9 p.m. CT.
The Rangers' season average on FSSW is 3.4, a 28 percent increase from the same point in the 2009 season. Since the All-Star break, Rangers games are averaging a 5.4 rating, more than doubling the season's first-half 2.6 average. Each of the last six Rangers games has had a rating of at least 6.2.
Last week, the club set the all-time Rangers TV ratings record on FSSW with an 8.0 rating during the Aug. 11 telecast against the Yankees. Then, on the following night, the Rangers broke that record with a 9.3 Nielson household local rating, translating into 237,000 homes, shattering FSN Southwest's previous best mark in the Dallas-Fort Worth area -- an 8.2 rating for the Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Lakers NBA contest on March 19, 2002, according to Nielson data.
Ailing Young takes rare day off
ST. PETERSBURG -- The announcement that a replacement at third base and the second spot in the lineup had been inserted after the seventh inning during Monday's heart-wrenching 6-4 loss to the Rays came as a surprise, not just because the Rangers-Rays game was tight, but also because it happened to be Michael Young. Last season, Young missed more than two consecutive starts for the first time since he became a full-time player in the early part of the 2002 season, when his strained left hamstring caused him to skip 22 of 23 games in September.
In fact, before last season, Young had missed seven games or less since 2002. So, with the final stretch of the season quickly approaching, concern was quickly abated on Tuesday when Rangers manager Ron Washington said Young would be back in the lineup come Wednesday.
"I had planned on giving him a day off anyways, so it will just happen today versus tomorrow," Washington said. "He played seven innings last night, pretty stiff, at the worst, so give him a day and he should be fine."
Young was not available for comment before Tuesday's contest against the Rays, but he said Monday that he slept on it wrong and woke up with a bit of tightness in the neck area. He attempted to play, but eventually the pain got to a point where it restricted his movement.
"I tried to give it a go, but it prevented me from doing much, both in the field and at the plate," said Young, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
Young said that he would do multiple treatments of heat and cold therapy throughout Monday night and Tuesday in hopes of returning to full strength on Wednesday.
Until Tuesday, he had started 116 of the team's 117 games, with the lone day off coming on July 6 against the Indians.
Rangers sign Cora to Minors deal
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers signed infielder Alex Cora to a Minor League contract on Tuesday. Cora is expected to join Triple-A Oklahoma City for Wednesday's game against Reno. The 34-year-old Cora has spent the past two seasons with the Mets, batting .207 with 20 RBIs this season before being released last Wednesday.
Cora missed the last half of the 2009 season for surgery to repair torn ligaments in both thumbs. The 13-year veteran has a career .244 average over 1,178 games with the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox and Mets.
Cora brings some postseason experience with him, having appeared in 13 playoff contests, including two in the Red Sox's four-game sweep of the Rockies in the 2007 World Series.
Washington shakes it up, sends Vlad to right
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers manager Ron Washington switched things up in right field on Tuesday night with Vladimir Guerrero getting the start for just the 11th time this season. Washington said it was an opportunity to give the eight-time All-Star an opportunity to contribute both in the field and at the plate.
"It's just to get him in the mix more, give him a chance to be more involved," Washington said. "It's a way for him to help more. Sometimes, as a player, you have to be in the field for things to get going with the bat."
Guerrero, who has made 93 starts as the designated hitter this season (with one start in left field), is 2-for-11 in the last three games and is batting .169 (11-for-65) over the last 15 contests to drop from a .307 average to .288, matching his lowest average this year since May 17.
Up until last season, Guerrero had played most of his career in the field, with just 178 of 1,750 career games occurring in the designated-hitter spot. Except for his first season with the Expos when he was called up from the Minor Leagues in 1996, Guerrero batted over .300 in each year up until 2009, when he played only twice in the field and finished the season with a .295 average with the Angels.
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.