Kinsler, Hamilton to rejoin lineup on Friday
Pair of sluggers available, but out of lineup Wednesday
KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers had two potentially dangerous pinch-hitters on their bench Wednesday night: All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder Josh Hamilton.Kinsler was activated off the disabled list after being out since July 29 with a strained left groin muscle, but manager Ron Washington wants to wait until Friday to get him back in the lineup. Kinsler was hitting third before going on the disabled list, but will bat sixth right now behind Nelson Cruz. Andres Blanco started at second for the 19th time in the past 20 games on Wednesday. He went into the game hitting .323 with seven doubles in his past 18 games. "That's what he's there for," Kinsler said. "He's playing really well. He's held down the position well and done everything asked of him." Hamilton was given the night off after getting a lubricating injection to help the pain in his right knee. With the Rangers off on Thursday, Hamilton said he'll take the two days to rest and be ready to go on Friday. He was the Rangers' designated hitter on Monday and Tuesday before getting the injection after Tuesday's game. "It's helped some," Hamilton said. "It feels 40-50 percent better than it did. Over the next couple of days (the injection) will get a chance to get in there, settle down and make it better."
Rangers to use Francoeur vs. southpaws
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers manager Ron Washington was unequivocal. He made it clear that Jeff Francoeur would be in the starting lineup against left-handed pitchers, leaving David Murphy and Julio Borbon to share time against right-handers."That's what we got him for," Washington said before Tuesday's game with the Royals. The Rangers acquired Francoeur from the Mets on Tuesday night in exchange for infielder Joaquin Arias. Francoeur, a right-handed hitter, was batting .237 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 124 games with the Mets while posting a .293 on-base percentage and a .369 slugging percentage. Against left-handers, he was hitting .280 with a .351 on-base percentage and a .410 slugging percentage. "I'll put him out there when we face left-handers," Washington said. "Other than that, it will be Borbon and Murphy when we face right-handers." Murphy is hitting .290 with a .345 on-base percentage and a .400 slugging percentage against left-handers. Early in the season he was facing mostly left-handers while Borbon started against right-handers. "Maybe it set me up to be successful because early on I knew that was my only chance to play," Murphy said. "I had to figure it out somehow. Murphy went into Wednesday's game against the Royals hitting .325 in his past 26 games with 19 RBIs and 12 walks in that stretch. "I realize our front office is trying to do the best they can to give the team the most options throughout September and see what we have going into the playoffs," Murphy said. "I know some left-handers are tougher than others. I deserve some at-bats against left-handers, but I realize it might be on a case-by-case basis." Franceour has been an everyday player for most of his six-year career, but realizes that with the Rangers he is only going to be a platoon player. "I'm happy to contribute any way," Francoeur said. "Wash said he's looking forward to me playing against left-handers and see what I can do. That's a good opportunity to help this team anyway I can." Francoeur hit .132 with one home run and four RBIs in 22 games and 68 at-bats in July, but improved to .233 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 25 games and 73 at-bats in August. He was 9-for-22 in his last seven games before the trade. "I feel pretty good at the plate," Francoeur said. "It's been a tough second half and most of July was a nightmare, but I'm swinging the bat a lot better lately." Francoeur has been exclusively a right-fielder for his entire career. He'll stay that way. Washington said Francoeur will start in right field when he is in there and Nelson Cruz will move to left.
Strop recalled to join Rangers' bullpen
KANSAS CITY -- Pedro Strop is back. Strop was called up for the fifth time this season as the Rangers added the hard-throwing right-hander to their bullpen when rosters were expanded on Wednesday.The Rangers could add other pitchers once the Minor League season ends. But the priority right now is to reinforce their right-handed relief now that Frank Francisco is on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his right rib cage. The Rangers have four potential right-handed relievers who could cover for Francisco at the back end of the bullpen: Strop, Alexi Ogando, Darren O'Day and Rich Harden. The Rangers moved Harden to the bullpen earlier this week. Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers miss Francisco and are looking for someone to step up in his absence. "I'm trying to get as many right-handers in there as I can," Washington said. Right now O'Day and Ogando will likely be the Rangers' right-handed late-inning setup relievers. O'Day has a 0.56 ERA in his past 36 games and has retired the past 12 hitters he faced. Ogando has a 1.46 ERA over his past 14 games, but also had some trouble on Tuesday. He entered a tie game in the ninth inning on Tuesday night and threw four straight balls to the only hitter he faced. The fourth ball got past catcher Matt Treanor and skipped to the backstop for a wild pitch. "He was just a little over-anxious," Washington said. "He was throwing 100 miles per hour. He's usually effective at 94-95." Strop had 13 saves and a 1.91 ERA in 39 relief appearances at Triple A Oklahoma City.
Catcher Taylor Teagarden and pitcher Dustin Nippert are expected to join the Rangers on Friday in Minnesota. Teagarden will be called up from the Minors as the third catcher and Nippert will be activated off the disabled list. ... Vladimir Guerrero hit his 25th home run of the season on Tuesday. He now has 12 seasons with at least 25 home runs. Other active players with at least that many are Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome. They all have 13. ... Guerrero has 99 RBIs. One more and he'll become the 10th player since 1900 with 10 seasons of at least 100 RBIs. ... Michael Young's home run on Tuesday was his 157th of his career, passing Alex Rodriguez for fifth most in Rangers history.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.