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06/30/08 7:09 PM ET
Washington putting best nine out there
Rangers manager also trying to keep bench players fresh
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Rookie first baseman Chris Davis was back in the Rangers' lineup on Monday, but three other rookies were not. Third baseman German Duran, outfielder Brandon Boggs and catcher Max Ramirez were all on the bench as the Rangers opened a three-game series with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Their absence reinforced one thing about manager Ron Washington's approach to putting out a lineup every day. The Rangers may be giving an opportunity to as many young players as possible, but Washington said his goal is still to put the best lineup out there every day to give his team the best chance of winning. Washington said he considers the Rangers in a pennant race right now. "I've got to put the best lineup out there," Washington said. "We're only 7 1/2 games out. We've still got a chance." Ramirez figures to get playing time both at first base and behind the plate. He may not start on Tuesday, but Washington is planning on using him at catcher on Wednesday. Boggs has been able to get semi-regular playing time because of nagging injuries to other outfielders. But the biggest concern is Duran, 23, the Rangers' right-handed-hitting infielder who has been reduced to a platoon role at third base. Washington admitted it's not the ideal situation for Duran, a natural second baseman who was supposed to play regularly at Triple-A Oklahoma this season. But he's here because he's one of the Rangers' 25 best players. "Of course he's being hindered by his development," Washington said. "But this is where we are. If this is the way it is the rest of the year, we'll approach him about going to winter ball and making up for the lost at-bats." Duran, going into Monday's game, had 149 at-bats on the season. By contrast, outfielder Jason Ellison, who has been playing regularly at Oklahoma, led the RedHawks with 326 at-bats. The Rangers are uneasy about Duran losing time in the field, but he's still platooning with Ramon Vazquez, who is hitting .326. "This kid [Duran] is a natural second baseman," Washington said. "We've got him out of position at third base, and he's seeing the best pitching in baseball. He's fighting and he's strong mentally. But he's not getting a chance to develop his baseball instincts up here. "I'm trying to do the best I can to get them all playing time during the week, so they don't sit and do nothing for a whole week. But they have to find a way to stay ready. They're not the first guys who had to play just once or twice a week and have to survive. But I can only play nine."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.