ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has made a big change. The toothpick anchored in his mouth was the giveaway."I've stopped dipping," Hamilton said before Monday's game with the Tigers. "It's been two days." This is not the first time that Hamilton has tried to quit using smokeless tobacco, but this time he is determined. "I'm tired of doing it," Hamilton said. "I don't enjoy it like I used to." He also isn't particularly fond of explaining why he is struggling at the plate. He was 1-for-4 with a single on Sunday against the Rockies after going 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts on Friday and Saturday. "I felt better yesterday, hopefully I will feel even better today," Hamilton said. "I just go through phases where I become a little jumpy at the plate. I try to do too much." Hamilton went 1-for-4 again in Monday's 8-2 loss to the Tigers, but this time it was a two-run homer in the seventh for the Rangers' lone runs of the game.
Hamilton agreed with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh that regaining the timing of his swing is the biggest thing right now."Starting my swing on time is the big thing," Hamilton said. "If I start early or I start late, I'm pretty much in trouble. If I start my swing on time, the pitches get as deep as they need to get and I get to see them better. It's a matter of focusing. It's about trusting your eyes, knowing when to start your swing and trusting yourself." Hamilton was the American League Player of the Month for April and May but went into Monday's game hitting .194 with one home run and seven RBIs in 19 games in June. "Everything in the batting cage has been good," Hamilton said. "But when I get on the field, my swing gets big. It's about transitioning the cage work to the field. But when you get in the game you can't think about it. What comes out, comes out."
Martin has chance to leave lasting impression
ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Leonys Martin was called up to the big leagues because Josh Hamilton had to miss a few days with an intestinal virus. He wasn't supposed to be here long, but everything changed when first baseman Mitch Moreland was lost for four-to-six weeks with a strained left hamstring.Now Martin has a chance to stay here much longer if he can prove he belongs. Going 2-for-4 with a double, triple and three RBIs against the Rockies on Sunday certainly helps. It was his third start for the Rangers since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock. "It was a positive night for me," said the Rangers' No. 4 prospect, as ranked by MLB.com. "It makes me feel more confident. Defensively and offensively, the more you play, the more confident you are." The Rangers signed Martin as a free agent on May 4, 2011, after he defected from Cuba. He was a September callup last season, but most of his time has been spent either in the Minor Leagues or on the disabled list. But in 104 Minor League games, he is hitting .309 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage. Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers are confident Martin can hit but still needs work on his defense. But right now, as a left-handed hitter, he is getting a chance to play against right-handed pitching, and he was back in the lineup on Monday against Tigers starter Rick Porcello. "He did a good job defensively [on Sunday], but he hasn't had a chance to be challenged yet," Washington said. "Routes, throwing, hitting the cutoff man, leads, reading pitchers, running the bases, those are the things he has to get better at and add to his game. He couldn't be in a better place under the supervision of [outfield coach] Gary Pettis. His game has got 100 percent better since he got here."
Adams mourns loss of former bullpen coach
ARLINGTON -- Mike Adams pitched with a heavy heart Sunday.He played in San Diego for over three seasons, developing a close relationship with Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who died of pancreatic cancer Sunday. Adams pitched a scoreless eighth inning during the Rangers' 4-2 win over the Rockies with the letters "AK" on his hat in honor of Akerfelds. "He's been a part of my family for the last five years," Adams said. "He was a good man. He was a huge part of what I was able to do in San Diego. Whenever you're around someone as long as you're around someone in this clubhouse or anywhere, people become family." Adams posted a 1.66 ERA in 209 appearances with the Padres, striking out 241 and walking 59 batters in 217 innings. Akerfelds, who spent 12 years playing professional baseball, appeared in six games for the Rangers in 1989. He held his position as the Padres bullpen coach for 11 years. "He was like an uncle to me and to everybody that came through San Diego in that bullpen," Adams said. "It was something I thought about all day. When I was in the game, it was kind of hard to block that out. I'm just glad he's not suffering anymore."
Harrison, Holland both ready to pitch
ARLINGTON -- Matt Harrison is ready to pitch for the Rangers on Friday night against the Athletics. Derek Holland is ready to pitch for Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday to begin his medical rehabilitation assignment.Harrison was fine on Monday, one day after leaving a start against the Rockies with some stiffness in his lower back/hip area. He was taken out as a precautionary measure after five scoreless innings of Texas' 4-2 win, and the Rangers did so against Harrison's will. "If something had happened, we'd all be out of a job," manager Ron Washington said. Holland is ready to pitch in a game after throwing 48 pitches without a problem in a bullpen session on Sunday. He is scheduled to pitch for Round Rock on Wednesday, and the plan is to throw 50 pitches. His next start would be for Round Rock on Monday.
The Rangers aren't sure yet if he'll need a third start, but it's a possibility. He has been on the disabled list since June 6 because of the effects of a stomach virus."We've got to get his pitch count up," Washington said.
Reliever Mark Hamburger, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers last week, was claimed off waivers by the Padres. Matt Harrison had a 0.33 ERA in four Interleague starts. That is the lowest ERA (min. 18 IP) in one season for Interleague Play. Rangers center fielders have combined to hit .342 with a .395 on-base percentage and a .575 slugging percentage this season. All three are the highest from that position for any team in the Major Leagues. Closer Joe Nathan threw 32 pitches on Sunday night but was available on Monday.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.