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07/21/09 6:58 PM ET
Andruw filling in as best he can
Cruz might be back in Wednesday's finale vs. Sox
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz is expected to be ready to return to the lineup in Wednesday's finale vs. Boston after missing three games because of a small fracture in the ring finger on his right hand. Cruz, who injured the finger diving into first base on Saturday night, took batting practice on Tuesday, and felt good enough to be available as a pinch-hitter. He is hoping to be ready to play on Wednesday. "I still feel it a little bit," Cruz said. "I can handle it. Sometimes it pinches me, but I know it will go away sooner or later. I can play." With Cruz unavailable, the Rangers have been going with Andruw Jones in the lineup just about every day, and he has been struggling. He went into Tuesday night's game with one hit in his past 22 at-bats since hitting three home runs in a game against the Angels before the All-Star break. "I've probably hit nine balls right at people, but I can't use that as an excuse," Jones said. "I'm going through a bad streak." Jones is a tough call for manager Ron Washington. Jones is hitting just .175 since June 1, the second-lowest average in the American League during that stretch for a player with at least 90 at-bats. Yet he is tied for the team lead with nine home runs and 20 RBIs since June 1. He also remains as a veteran hitter who has been through a pennant race and had success doing so. "Everybody needs to pick it up, just not one guy," Jones said. "We're a team. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We pick each other up. Nobody is saying you need to put it all on your shoulders. "No doubt, I've been in this situation before, but you've still got to go out and play your game. Am I the key to the team? No, I'm not. It's the guys who have been around a long time. I'm part of the puzzle. The guys who are the key to the team are Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh [Hamilton]. We know what we have to do to win: play good defense, get hits when we need them, pitch well. There's not one guy who you can say, 'If he doesn't do it, we're not going to win.'" Jones continues to be the Rangers' No. 1 option as the cleanup hitter when he does play. In 41 games at cleanup, Jones is hitting .247 with 13 home runs and 32 RBIs. "Andruw is streaky," Washington said. "He'll get four at-bats and get two walks and score some runs. He'll come out of it. We'd all like to see more, just like him. But you can't pin it on him, it's the whole team."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.