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07/02/08 7:14 PM ET
Murphy gets a rest against Yanks
Slumping outfielder hitting just .143 over his past 17 games
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Manager Ron Washington gave a few people the night off for the Rangers' final game with the Yankees on Wednesday night. Outfielders Brandon Boggs, designated hitter Frank Catalanotto, catcher Max Ramirez and third baseman German Duran were all in the starting lineup for the first time in the three-game series. David Murphy was most notable among those who were out of the lineup. The Yankees had a right-hander on the mound, but Washington still wanted to give Murphy a night off to help him get out of a three-week slump. The Rangers are also off on Thursday, so that gives Murphy a two-day break. "He just might be hitting a little fatigue period," Washington said. "He'll catch his second wind. This is the first time this kid has had to grind a Major League season." Murphy went into Thursday's game hitting .143 (8-for-56) with no home runs and six RBIs in his past 17 games. "Hitting is all about feel, and I don't have the feel right now," Murphy said. "I'm trying to make adjustments, but it's just not happening. I need to slow it down and take it easy. A lot of time I feel like I'm making adjustments, and then I look at myself on tape and I'm not. I have to make sure what I'm trying to do mentally and what I'm actually doing physically is in sync." Murphy got off to a strong start and was hitting as high as .293 after going 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs on June 11 against Kansas City. But one possibility for his recent slump is that teams are starting to get a better feel through advance scouting on how to pitch to Murphy. Pitchers may be pitching him tougher than they were earlier in the season. "They are, but I'm still missing pitches that I should hit," Murphy said. "It would be one thing if I was getting a lot of offspeed pitches and they were locating them well. While they have, I'm still getting a few fastballs that I should have hit and didn't. If the pitcher is pitching well, you tip your hat, but you can't miss fastballs when you get them, and I have." Third baseman Ramon Vazquez, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and outfielder Marlon Byrd were also out of the lineup. The Rangers also went into the game not expecting to use left-hander Eddie Guardado, who is dealing with some shoulder inflammation. The Rangers are hoping to keep him out until Friday in Baltimore. Washington said closer C.J. Wilson was available even though he had pitched in each of the previous three games. Wilson did keep his pitch count down in those games. Wilson had two 25-pitch outings last week against the Phillies and Astros, but in his previous three outings, he had pitch counts of 14, 13 and 10 while saving all three games. "He's been very efficient with his pitches," Washington said. "He's the closer, and I think he's loving it. Look at it and how comfortable he is. He's confident and he loves the setting here in Yankee Stadium in front of 50,000 people."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.