ARLINGTON -- Triple-A Round Rock pitcher Eric Hurley won his fourth straight start on Sunday afternoon as the Express defeated Omaha, 3-1. Hurley went seven innings and allowed one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out four.Hurley, who missed two months after getting hit in the head by a line drive, is 5-0 with a 3.94 ERA in nine starts for Round Rock. He has a 2.77 ERA in his last four starts. Darren O'Day, who was optioned to Round Rock after the All-Star break, pitched a scoreless ninth on Sunday and earned his first save down there. He has pitched four scoreless innings since being optioned.
'Time is now' for Davis to prove his value
ARLINGTON -- Chris Davis was back in the Rangers' lineup on Sunday night even though the Blue Jays had left-hander Brett Cecil on the mound.Davis is a .199 hitter against left-handed pitching at the Major League level since the beginning of the 2009 season, but manager Ron Washington felt he was one of the nine best players to give the Rangers a chance against Cecil. That's how Washington will select his lineup on a daily basis. The Rangers did not bring up Davis from Triple-A because they want to see what he can do or as a reward for his great season at Round Rock. They brought him up here because Adrian Beltre is on the disabled list and they need Davis to help them win. Now it's up to Davis to uphold that trust. "I agree ... it is big for me to make the most of this opportunity," Davis said. Davis is has a reputation for being an excellent defensive player but was used at designated hitter. Washington gave catcher Yorvit Torrealba the night off, going with Mike Napoli at catcher, Mitch Moreland at first base and Michael Young at third base. "Seeing that I'm the DH, that tells me I'm going to be given the opportunity," Davis said. "I'm going to be given the shot to prove I can play every day in this lineup. For me, the time is now." Davis played in 80 games as a rookie for the Rangers in 2008 and hit .285 with 17 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .549 slugging percentage. He has struggled to regain that level since then. In 180 games and 566 at-bats at the big league level since, he is hitting .231 with 25 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .413 slugging percentage. He has been sent down and called up from the Minors six times since being the Rangers' Opening Day first baseman in 2009. But he destroys Triple-A pitching when he gets sent down. He has played in 226 Triple-A games over the past four seasons and is hitting .337 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .609 slugging percentage at that level. This season he was hitting .368 with 24 home runs, 66 RBIs and an .824 slugging percentage in just 48 games at Round Rock. That's why the Rangers still have high hopes for him and why other teams ask about him in trade talks. The possibility of Davis being traded this month seemed real until Beltre went down with a strained left hamstring. "It kind of entered into my mind ... that I may not be here, that I might be with another organization," Davis said. "You have to put it behind you. When you're playing every day, you've got enough to focus on without listening to every little bit that's out there." Davis played first, third and the outfield at Triple-A. The Rangers' biggest need at the big league level is at third base with Beltre out. Davis and Young will share that position. "Davis will play some first base," Washington said. "We're OK in the outfield. I'm not saying you won't see him in the outfield, but it's not a priority."
Blanco tests back injury with on-field BP
ARLINGTON -- Andres Blanco, on the disabled list with a stress reaction in his lower back, joined the Rangers for on-field batting practice as he continues to progress slowly from his injury. Blanco is a switch-hitter and he still feels the discomfort when he swings from the left side."That's the most difficult part," he said. The Rangers are hoping that Blanco can go out on a medical rehabilitation assignment in the Minors on Tuesday or Wednesday, but that is still contingent upon getting through at least a couple of days of batting practice. That is still an unknown.
Blanco has been on the disabled list since July 7 and has not progressed quickly. It is unlikely that he'll be back before the end of July.
Rangers sign pair of Venezuelan teenagers
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have announced the signing of outfielder Eduard Pinto, 16, as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela.
He is a 5-foot-10 and 155-pound left-handed hitter who had one at-bat for Magallanes in Venezuelan Winter League last offseason. That's the same team that Endy Chavez and Andres Blanco played for last winter.The Rangers also announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Yohander Mendez. He is another 16-year-old Venezuelan who agreed to a $1.5 million bonus earlier this month pending a physical. He is considered one of the top left-handed pitching prospects coming out of Latin America this offseason.
The Rangers signed pitcher Merkin Valdez to a Minor League contract. He was released by the Dodgers last Monday after going 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA and four saves at Triple-A. The Rangers had three sacrifice bunts in the ninth inning on Saturday. It's the 15th time in Major League history that a team has had three sacrifice bunts in an inning. The Astros were the last team in 2005. They were also the last team to do it in the ninth inning, and that was back in 1975. The Rangers have the top three RBI producers in the American League for July: Nelson Cruz (22), Adrian Beltre (19) and Josh Hamilton (19). Elvis Andrus leads the Major Leagues with 13 sacrifice bunts.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.