SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Napoli was back in the lineup at designated hitter on Wednesday night, one day after hitting two home runs in the Rangers' 10-9 victory over the Padres.The home runs were his first two of Spring Training, and Napoli is now 8-for-25 (.320) in the Cactus League. He has also walked 10 times, second-most in the Cactus League, against just six strikeouts. "I'm better," Napoli said. "I was feeling all right ... getting deep into counts and getting walks. But the timing of my aggressive swing and balance was off. I've still been able to swing at strikes, but I wasn't able to drive the ball. I had a good day yesterday, but I've still got some work to do." He is getting healthy. Napoli entered camp in the lingering stages of a high ankle sprain and later suffered a strained groin muscle. He has played in just 12 of the Rangers' first 25 games, and started just seven at catcher. But he said those problems are going away. "I feel good ... no problems," Napoli said. "My ankle feels great and my leg muscle feels good."
Cruz bruises wrist; Borbon's whiff draws ire
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz got hit across the knuckles on a pitch from Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar in the third inning Wednesday night. Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon received a figurative rap across the knuckles from manager Ron Washington in the 10th inning.Borbon's scolding might have been more painful than Cruz getting hit by a pitch in the Rangers' 7-6 victory in 10 innings at Surprise Stadium. Borbon, trying to win a job as the Rangers' center fielder or at least a reserve outfielder, upset his manager by fouling off two squeeze bunt attempts in the 10th. Borbon, batting with one out and a runner on third, ended up striking out. "First time you foul one off, that happens," Washington said. "The second time, there is no excuse. You get a second shot, you're not supposed to miss the second shot."
Washington pointed out that the Rangers work on bunting every morning. He also made his feelings clear to Borbon in a private conversation on the bench."There's no excuse for not bunting," Washington said. "That's their job. If they can't do that ..." Cruz was hit by a pitch in the third inning and came out of the game after striking out in the fifth. "The ball grazed him across the knuckles," Washington said. "His next at-bat, he took a swing and grimaced. So I took him out of there. He had a little bit of pain but nothing was broken." Cruz did not have X-rays taken. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
Hamilton getting time in center
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton is getting his wish. The Rangers are going to give him time in center field in the final week of Spring Training.Hamilton was off on Wednesday, but manager Ron Washington said Hamilton will start two of the next four games in center field before the Rangers leave Arizona. Hamilton started in center two straight games before getting Wednesday off, and he has started seven times there this spring. "I can tell the difference already," Hamilton said. "Yesterday I felt better going back on balls and with my depth perception, things like that." Craig Gentry started in center on Wednesday. It was his first start since leaving Sunday's game with a virus. Gentry went into Wednesday's game with just three hits in 25 at-bats while dealing with a sprained left wrist and hamstring issues earlier this spring. "He needs to get out there and play nine innings," Washington said. "Hopefully nothing happens." Washington had a long talk with Gentry after Tuesday's game. One of the things Washington stressed is he wants to see Gentry more aggressive on the basepaths. "I need to see him run," Washington said. "I've got to see his instincts on the basepaths. Unless we're getting our tails handed to us, I want to see him running. I don't care if he's safe or out."
Andrus sits on Wednesday
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was out of the lineup on Wednesday while dealing with some tightness in his right hip flexor. Andrus had to come out of Tuesday's game after two innings when his hip tightened up while running to first base."It's a little tight today for sure," Andrus said. "I am going to continue to get treatment and stretch a lot and be ready for tomorrow. If this happened during the season, I would just wrap it and continue to play. But these are injuries that you don't want to carry into a season." Andrus has never been on the disabled list as a professional. He missed four games last year from June 23-26 with a sprained left wrist and two more July 30-31 with a twisted right knee.
Cotts, Scheppers throw scoreless innings
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Neal Cotts, who is still in the running for a spot in the Rangers' bullpen, threw a scoreless inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday afternoon. The outing was significant because it's the first time he has pitched back-to-back games this spring.Cotts, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009, also pitched a scoreless inning against the Padres on Tuesday afternoon. He has not allowed a run in his last four appearances. Cotts is competing with Michael Kirkman and Robbie Ross for a possible spot in the bullpen. They are the last left-handed relief candidates remaining. Kirkman responded from a rough outing on Sunday against the Angels when he allowed four runs in two innings by pitching two scoreless against the Padres on Tuesday. "Nothing was different," Kirkman said. "I felt like I threw the ball better against the Angels than yesterday. They just hit balls at people. It happens in this game. But I was happy with the result." Tanner Scheppers, who is still in camp, also did some work in a Minor League game on Tuesday night against the Royals' Double-A team. He followed Neftali Feliz and Joe Nathan, and pitched a scoreless inning. He gave up two hits and struck out two. Right-hander Greg Reynolds, who is getting support for a spot in the bullpen, is scheduled to throw in a Minor League game on Thursday.
Outfielder Ruben Sierra Jr. was among 10 players released from Minor League camp. He is the son of former Rangers outfielder Ruben Sierra and a sixth-round pick out of high school who hit .244 with seven home runs and 57 RBIs over 122 games and 410 at-bats. He had 144 strikeouts and 29 walks.The other nine players were pitcher Cody Evans, pitcher John Meloan, outfielder Orlando Sandoval, outfielder Efrain Nunez, pitcher Fabian Williamson, pitcher Jorge Marban, first baseman Clark Murphy, outfielder Kendall Radcliffe and infielder Jonathan Roof. Washington on Yu Darvish: "We went after Darvish because we wanted him to do exactly what he has been doing here."
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.