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04/27/07 7:15 PM ET
Notes: Washington shuffles lineup
Manager makes moves to get hitters into comfortable spots
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Trying to get his offense going, manager Ron Washington made some changes in his batting order and put his marquee players in the spots in the lineup where they've had the most success in their careers. Kenny Lofton was still batting leadoff on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays, but Washington moved everybody else up one and dropped Frank Catalanotto into the sixth spot. Michael Young went from third to second and Mark Teixeira moved up to the No. 3 spot in the order. Sammy Sosa, who had six hits in his past 12 at-bats going into the game, batted cleanup for the first time this year and Hank Blalock batted sixth. "I just want to get them in a position where they are comfortable and can be successful," Washington said. "They're getting frustrated. If the numbers bear me out, then good." Washington was considering the changes and then had advance scout Perry Minasian show him their career numbers. What he saw confirmed his judgment. Young is a career .315 hitter with an .836 OPS in the No. 2 spot and a .263 hitter with a .722 OPS in the No. 3 spot. Teixeira is hitting .296 with a .924 slugging percentage in the No. 3 spot and .266 with an .870 OPS as a cleanup hitter. Young said the difference in numbers was purely coincidental but agreed that changing up the lineup can't hurt. "It doesn't matter to me," Young said. "My approach doesn't change. If there are runners out there, I'm trying to knock them in. If there is nobody on base, I just want to set the table. Blalock has a substantial difference between the No. 5 and No. 6 spots in the order. In the fifth spot, he was hitting .294 with an .820 OPS as opposed to .225 with a .648 OPS at No. 6. "Maybe I overreacted putting them in the positions they were in," Washington said. "Now, they're in a comfortable spot, and maybe it will get them going." Sosa was always a cleanup hitter when he was at his best with the Chicago Cubs. He's not at that level anymore, but he and Ian Kinsler have been the Rangers' best hitters so far. Sosa went into Friday's game with the Blue Jays hitting .239 with six home runs and 18 RBIs. "The fact that he's starting to figure it out makes [the lineup] feel really good," Washington said. Cat turns 33: Catalanotto turned 33 on Friday and was asked if three hits would be the perfect birthday gift. "Four would be better," Catalanotto said. "Hey, beggars can't be choosers. I'll take two." Catalanotto is a career .297 hitter but went into Friday's game hitting .154 and was dropped from second to sixth in the new lineup. "It's been rough," Catalanotto said. "I've never been through anything like this, especially at the start of a season. I usually have a good April, but this has been the most frustrating month of my career." Catalanotto said he is doing everything he normally does, and he's also studied videotapes from when he was hitting well. He hasn't seen much of a difference. "Nothing has helped," Catalanotto said. "It's frustrating. I'm sick of hearing people telling me to just keep swinging and it will turn around. Right now, it doesn't feel like it will turn around." Gagne close to throwing: Eric Gagne said the pain in his hip has subsided and he is hoping to resume throwing either Saturday or Sunday. Gagne was placed on the disabled list Monday with a strained right hip and is still hoping that he'll only need the minimum 15 days. "It's 100 percent better," Gagne said. "I don't feel a thing. I tried to make it hurt and couldn't do it. I'll probably start playing catch on Saturday and have a bullpen session in three or four days from now." Chen clears waivers: The Rangers, unable to find much interest in pitcher Bruce Chen, were able to get him through outright waivers and assigned him to Triple-A Oklahoma. Chen could have refused the assignment but told the Rangers at the end of Spring Training that he would accept it if necessary. The Rangers thought Chen might get claimed and talked trade with a number of teams. The New York Yankees were among them but there was not much interest. "Teams have internal options they're familiar with from Spring Training to fill their needs," general manager Jon Daniels said. Wasted home runs: Sosa's two home runs on Thursday gave him 69 multi-homer games in his career. That's the third most in Major League history but 25 of those have come in games that his team lost. That's the most in Major League history. No other player has more than 20 multi-homer games in losing efforts. Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth each had 12 in games their team lost. He said it: "I think we're throwing the ball better than we look. Lately, we've walked too many people but we've pitched better than the numbers have shown." -- Pitcher Kevin Millwood. Thursday's Minor stars: Top performances from the Rangers Minor League teams on Thursday: Gold: Bakersfield outfielder John Mayberry, off to a slow start, hit three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 13-3 victory over Visalia. Silver: Outfielder Anthony Webster went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run in Frisco's 8-4 victory over San Antonio. Bronze: Jason Botts and Marlon Byrd both had three hits, and Victor Diaz went 2-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBIs as Oklahoma beat New Orleans, 11-3. Briefly: Lofton had nine stolen bases going into Friday's game with the Blue Jays. That's the most by a Ranger in April since Tom Goodwin stole 11 in 1999. Cecil Espy had 13 in 1989. ... Washington said he is planning on using Teixeira at designated hitter on Saturday and Young there on Sunday to give them a day off the artificial turf of Rogers Centre. Up next: Millwood makes his sixth start of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:07 p.m. CT at Rogers Centre. Left-hander Gustavo Chacin pitches for the Blue Jays.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.