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04/14/07 4:30 PM ET
Notes: Kinsler staying put in lineup
Washington not planning to shift hot-hitting second baseman
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Ian Kinsler went into Saturday's game with five home runs, second in the American League behind Alex Rodriguez. He was also batting ninth in the Rangers lineup on Saturday against Mariners right-hander Miguel Batista. Manager Ron Washington said he has no plans right now to move Kinsler up in the order even though his power hitters in the middle of the order are struggling. Kinsler remains in the No. 9 spot against right-handers and in the No. 2 spot against left-handers. "We're only in the first month of the season," Washington said. "I'm going to let him be where he is, where he's most comfortable. As we progress into the season, if the time comes to move him up in the lineup, we'll make that adjustment. I'm not going to put that kind of pressure on him." The Rangers' No. 4-7 spots in the lineup, going into Saturday's game, were hitting a combined .209 with one home run and eight RBIs. The No. 9 spot was hitting .310 with five home runs and eight RBIs. Mark Teixeira, who had one RBI and no extra-base hits in the first 10 games, was batting fourth on Saturday, followed by Sammy Sosa (.156, one homer, three RBIs), Hank Blalock (.256, no homers, one RBI) and Brad Wilkerson (.217, no homers, three RBIs). "Looking at it, there's not much tweaking I can do," Washington said. "They're not panicking, and I'm not panicking. We've got to ride it out. They're all veterans. They know how to handle adversity. They will emerge." Kinsler's five home runs came in 10 games. He needed 20 games to get to five home runs last year, and because of his thumb injury, No. 5 didn't come until June. "Home runs come in bunches," Kinsler said. "I'd like to keep it consistent, but it's not really realistic to think I'm going to hit 81 home runs. I'm just trying to hit line drives gap to gap, get on base and help the team win." Kata shines: Matt Kata and Jerry Hairston Jr. have a term for their role. They don't like being known as reserves, bench players or utilitymen. They used the term "significant others." "We like that better," Kata said. "Tony Clark coined that term in Arizona." The significant others did pretty good on Friday night. Kata was 3-for-4 with a home run while making his first start in a Major League game since May 3, 2005. It was the first time he's had three hits in a game and the first time he'd homered since May 21, 2004. That still didn't get him in Saturday's lineup, but Washington said he's still planning to use either Hairston or Kata on Sunday against left-hander Horacio Ramirez. "You understand your role," Kata said. "You understand what you do on a daily basis. If you're in the starting lineup, you do your thing. If not, you prepare that day a different way. It's just a different routine. You've got to be ready in different situations to do your thing. You want to be in there every day, but you understand the way it is. The main thing is to win ballgames. When we're winning, everybody is happy." Rotation watch: Washington said Kameron Loe could get at least three starts before Jamey Wright (shoulder inflammation) is ready. Washington said Wright will likely get at least one start on medical rehabilitation assignment before being activated off the disabled list. "We're not going to just bring him off the disabled list and put him in the starting rotation," Washington said. Facing left-handers: The Rangers won on Friday night when facing a left-handed starter. They take on another left-hander on Sunday. The Rangers were 22-23 against left-handers last year and 14-25 against them in 2005. He said it: "I'm feeling just .... great, thank you very much." -- Right-hander Kevin Millwood, still battling with a head cold Friday's Minor stars: Top performances from the Rangers' four Minor League affiliates on Friday: Gold: Class A Clinton pitcher Omar Poveda allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven in a 5-3 victory over Beloit. He is now 2-0. Silver: Clinton catcher Manny Pina was 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. Bronze: Class A Bakersfield third baseman Chris Davis hit a three-run homer and a grand slam in a 16-7 loss to Modesto. Briefly: Going into Saturday's game, the Rangers had scored 24 runs in the first three innings and just four runs in the last three innings. ... Blalock has struck out at least once in nine of the Rangers' first 10 games. ... The Athletics are scheduled to pitch Joe Blanton on Friday and Rich Harden on Saturday in the first two games of the Rangers' upcoming homestand. The Athletics are undecided on Sunday. Up next: Right-hander Brandon McCarthy (1-1, 3.75 ERA) pitches against Ramirez (5-5, 4.48 in 2006) and the Seattle Mariners at 3:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Safeco Field in the final game of their three-game series.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.