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05/04/09 10:16 PM ET
Andrus stays in two-hole in lineup
Shortstop may be No. 2 hitter until Hamilton returns
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Elvis Andrus appears to have a new spot in the Rangers batting order, at least until Josh Hamilton returns from the disabled list. Andrus was back in the No. 2 spot on Monday against Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez. Manager Ron Washington used Andrus in the No. 2 spot on Sunday with left-hander John Danks on the mound for the White Sox and liked the way the lineup looked. Andrus went 2-for-3 with a stolen base in a 5-1 victory, so Washington left him in the two-hole against a right-hander. Washington's original inclination was to use Andrus there just against left-handers. "He can do things that I need done in the second hole," Washington said. "He can bunt, he can hit-and-run, he can hit the ball to the right side and move runners over. I don't need to have him up there worrying about producing runs. I just want him to do the things that he naturally does." Andrus, 20, in his first Major League season, had been hitting in the No. 9 spot. "I like hitting No. 2 because I get a lot of fastballs," Andrus said. "If you have a good leadoff hitter like Ian Kinsler getting on all the time, they're not going to want to throw a lot of breaking balls in the dirt. Plus, they don't want to mess around with all the good hitters behind me. They want to get me out of the way first." Andrus has not been that easy to get out. He entered Monday's game hitting .274 (17-for-62) in 20 games with one home run and four RBIs. Among all Major League rookies, he was second with 13 runs scored and tied for third with three stolen bases. Of the 10 Major League rookies with at least 50 at-bats, Andrus had the sixth highest OPS (on-base plus-slugging percentage) at .727. A 20-year-old rookie whom the Rangers mainly wanted for his defense, Andrus has been holding his own at the plate. "I always said this kid wasn't going to be an out," Washington said. "The thing I like is how he can do the fundamental things. That's his natural ability. This kid hit doubles in the Minors, he hit triples and he stole bases. I never thought he was going to be an out." Hamilton is sidelined with a strained left rib-cage muscle and is not eligible to come off the disabled list until a week from Tuesday. Hamilton normally bats third in the lineup, but Michael Young has dropped down a spot to fill that hole. Washington started off using David Murphy and Marlon Byrd in the No. 2 spot while Hamilton was sidelined, but prefers them in the middle of the order behind cleanup hitter Hank Blalock. So he moved Andrus there on Saturday with the idea of taking advantage of his bunt and hit-and-run ability. Washington normally prefers to have young rookies at the bottom of the lineup to keep the pressure off them. Andrus will likely shift back to the bottom of the order when Hamilton returns. Washington wants Hamilton in the No. 3 spot again and Young back hitting second. "I've tried Hamilton in the fourth spot and it doesn't work," Washington said. "He's better hitting third. He's more comfortable hitting third like Michael is more comfortable in the second hole. I don't want Michael in the third spot thinking he has to go deep. His game is lacing the ball all over the ballpark."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.