KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Mike Napoli, who is on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle, tested his injury with several runs from home to first base on Tuesday afternoon. But he is not running full speed, he is not running the bases and he has not tested the injury with quick starts, stops and cuts.Those are the final tests needed before he is ready to play. He may try again on Wednesday, but a lot simply depends on how he feels each day. Napoli tried to push it on the last homestand, but only aggravated the muscle and caused another delay. "I want to push it but I can't," Napoli said. "If I have one more setback, I won't be back the rest of the year. I felt something the other day in Texas and had to shut it down the first time I tried to run the bases. We're trying to progress, I just can't go all-out yet." With Napoli out, Geovany Soto has started 18 of the Rangers' last 23 games at catcher, including Tuesday against the Royals. He has also started 22 overall since being acquired from the Cubs on July 31. The Rangers are 16-6 in his 22 starts and their pitchers have a 3.54 ERA when he is behind the plate. "He calls a very good game," pitcher Yu Darvish said after working with Soto on Monday. "A lot of things go through his mind before he puts his fingers down. He's doing a very good job."
Washington says Rangers keep grinding away
KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers entered Tuesday's game against the Royals with a record of 80-54 that matched the best mark in club history after 134 games. The 1999 team was also at 80-54 while the Rangers were 75-59 at this point in each of the past two seasons.Manager Ron Washington still said this season has been much tougher for his club than the past two, when they ended up in the World Series. "If everybody had played up to their potential, we'd be sitting here with our feet up waiting for the season to end," Washington said. "Each year is different and this year we've really had to fight for it. These guys have had to really grind and they're doing it. Everybody wants to be better, but you have to deal with reality and the reality is we're still four games up [over Oakland in the American League West] and we're still 26 games over .500." Washington said the two things that have made this a tough season are the injuries to the pitching staff and the offensive slump that the Rangers went through for part of June and just about all of July. "That bad spell in July, we never went through that last year," Washington said. "If we had played half good and half bad in July, we'd be sitting here with our feet up waiting for the season to end. When our pitching staff started to get decimated by injuries, everybody thought we would fall apart. But we didn't and now we're back up."
Darvish is non-committal toward World Classic
KANSAS CITY -- The two-time champion Japanese are going to participate in next year's World Baseball Classic. There is no word yet whether Yu Darvish will join them.The Japanese agreed to play in the tournament on Tuesday after a dispute was resolved over shares of revenue. Japanese players were unhappy with their share of the revenues from the previous tournaments. That has been resolved, but Darvish declined to discuss his possible participation in the tournament next year. "It's still in the middle of the season," Darvish said in a statement released through the Rangers. "I have no comment on that issue right now." Manager Ron Washington also declined to discuss the situation. "We've got the Kansas City Royals here on Sept. 4," Washington said. "It's too early to be talking about that. That issue will be answered when it's time. But I'm glad they decided to play." Darvish pitched for Japan in 2009 and was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts and three relief appearances. Rangers reliever Koji Uehara was on the Japan team that won the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic and he was 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts. He did not play in 2009 because it was his first spring in the Major Leagues after signing with the Orioles.
Kinsler's run totals are fine with Washington
KANSAS CITY -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler entered Tuesday's game hitting .198 in his last 25 games. That has dropped his average from .281 to .265. His on-base as a leadoff hitter is .334, which ranks 11th at the spot in the American League.But he also went into Tuesday's game with 91 runs scored and manager Ron Washington said that's what matters most with a leadoff hitter. "I see leadoff hitters with high on-base percentages that aren't scoring runs," Washington said. "He's still crossing the dish. He's got the ability to drive in runs and hit home runs but the main thing is he's crossing the plate. His home runs may be down and his RBI may be down, but he's still closing in on a 100-run season. I'm not complaining about our leadoff guy." Angels outfielder Mike Trout leads the American League with 108 runs scored. Kinsler is second with 91 and next comes teammate Josh Hamilton with 89.
Manager Ron Washington on Monday's ninth-inning incident when Nelson Cruz thought Royals pitcher Louis Coleman hit him deliberately with a pitch: "I don't know. ... I was surprised when they hit him. I don't know what that was about. We don't play this game to embarrass people or make them look bad. We're not focused on that incident. We're focused on today and getting better." David Murphy entered Tuesday's game with a .400 batting average against left-handed pitchers. Since 1974, the only left-handed hitter with enough qualifying plate appearances to have a higher batting average against lefties was Ichiro Suzuki. He hit .404 against them in 2004. The highest by a Rangers left-handed hitter against them is .339 by Rafael Palmeiro in 1990. Infielder Jurickson Profar was out early on Tuesday getting extra instruction from Washington on his double-play pivot.
Reserve outfielder Leonys Martin had to return to Texas to deal with a personal matter. He was not available for Tuesday's game, but is expected back on Wednesday.
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.