ARLINGTON -- Of the nine players in the Rangers' Opening Day lineup, David Murphy was probably the one who really needed to get off to a quick start. He has started to do just that with three hits, including two doubles, in his first six at-bats.This comes after he hit .327 with a .509 slugging percentage during Spring Training. "I have a good mindset going, coming out of Spring Training," Murphy said. "I just need to maintain it all year. It all starts with your mindset -- that affects mechanics, that affects effort and that affects results. I need to be as good of a player mentally as I can and that will be the key to better results." Murphy wants to get off to a good start because his career .240 batting average in April is 41 points lower than his overall batting average. He came out of Spring Training being viewed as an everyday player for the first time and he wants to seize the opportunity. "It makes a difference when I know I'm playing pretty much every day," Murphy said. "It's nice to be able to get into a routine. It was hard in the past when I came to the ballpark not knowing if I was in the lineup. It's a little more difficult when you're not seeing live pitching every day. You can take batting practice all you want but no way does it simulate game conditions."
Napoli to be behind the plate for Darvish's debut
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington is planning to have Mike Napoli behind the plate when Yu Darvish makes his Major League debut on Monday night against the Mariners.Yorvit Torrealba started on Sunday night against the White Sox. Washington has no plans to designate either one of his catchers to work exclusively with Darvish. "He hasn't indicated he needs a particular guy," Washington said. Napoli was behind the plate when Darvish made his last Spring Training start in Arizona. Darvish pitched six innings against the Rockies and allowed three runs on six hits with a walk and 11 strikeouts. "The last game I caught him we started to flow a little bit as far as being on the same page, the way he liked to work, me being in the right spot, talking in the dugout," Napoli said. "He's ready to pitch in the big leagues. I've seen him throw in Spring Training. He's got good stuff, he's a competitor, he likes being out there. He's not scared, he goes after hitters and gets outs." Napoli's advice? "'Just be yourself,'" Napoli said. "'Throw what you want to throw, commit to it and be yourself.'" "I like his stuff and I like his track record," pitching coach Mike Maddux said of Darvish. "The guy knows how to win, we just have to translate that over here. The game against the Rockies and the reaction of the hitters was impressive. He does have the stuff and the ability to have the upper edge on hitters." Darvish, 25, will be the second-youngest pitcher from Japan to make his Major League debut in a start. The youngest was 23-year-old Tomo Ohka in 1999 for the Red Sox. Daisuke Matsuzaka was 26 when he pitched for the first time in the Major Leagues in 2007 for the Red Sox. "Darvish is only human," Washington said. "His first game at the Major League level, he'll probably have butterflies and need to settle down. But he did a good job of settling down in Spring Training. He's pitched in big games before, I don't care if it was in Japan. I expect him to do the same thing as others, keep us in the ballgame."
Young starts at second base, Kinsler at DH
ARLINGTON -- Michael Young, after two games at designated hitter, was in the field for the first time on Sunday at second base. Ian Kinsler, who was 4-for-9 in the first two games, was in the Rangers' lineup at designated hitter."It's not that Ian needs a day off, but I wanted to get Michael on the field," manager Ron Washington said. Young was the Rangers' regular second baseman from 2001-03 before moving to shortstop. He played 14 games at second base in 2011.
Go-ahead home run a rarity for Nathan
ARLINGTON -- Rangers closer Joe Nathan gave up a go-ahead home run to White Sox outfielder Alex Rios in the ninth inning on Saturday. It was the first go-ahead home run given up by Nathan since Sept. 17, 2007, when he was pitching for the Twins against the Rangers in the Metrodome.That home run was hit by third baseman Travis Metcalf, one of 11 he hit in the Major Leagues. It gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead, but the Twins rallied with two runs in the bottom of the inning for a 5-4 victory. Nathan wasn't so fortunate on Saturday, as the Rangers lost to the White Sox, 4-3. Nathan, who is 37 and had Tommy John surgery two years ago, pitched in the Rangers' first two games and manager Ron Washington said he does not have a set rule against using Nathan for three straight days. Washington said it will all depend on how Nathan feels that particular day. "If his workload is heavy, we'll back him off," Washington said. "If he says he's ready, we'll use him if needed." Nathan last pitched on three straight days on July 15-17 last season for the Twins. He pitched a scoreless inning in all three games before getting two days off.
Brad Hawpe made his debut for Double-A Frisco on Saturday and was 3-for-4 with a double and home run in a 6-1 victory over Springfield. Hawpe, who had Tommy John surgery last August, was at designated hitter on Saturday but will play the outfield a couple of times a week while building up arm strength. He is still limited in his throwing. Pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama, on the disabled list with stiffness in his lower back, threw a bullpen session on Sunday. Tateyama reported improvement in his back and the Rangers could send him on a medical rehabilitation assignment sometime next week. The Rangers had just one walk in their first two games. They had one or fewer walks over two consecutive games just four times in 2011.
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.