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09/16/09 8:50 PM ET
Jaramillo meets with slumping Rangers
Hitting coach holds sit-down before Wednesday's finale
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- With the Rangers stuck in one of their worst slumps of the season, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo convened a meeting with his hitters before Wednesday's game with the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers went into the contest having scored just one run in their last 28 innings. Rangers' hitters meet with Jaramillo before the first game of every series. These "advance" or scouting meetings are designed to go over the opposing team's pitching. But it's rare to have a meeting before the last game of a series unless your hitters are in a deep slump. "I can't let it go," Jaramillo said. "I'm a coach. It has been three days. I've got to say something, try something, make them aware of what's going on." The Rangers, after going hitless in 10 such at-bats on Tuesday, are 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the first five games of this homestand. They are hitting .218 overall in losing four of five on what is clearly the biggest homestand of the season. But Jaramillo didn't rip into his hitters. This was not a fire-and-brimstone speech. "We have positive meetings around here," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "Nobody questions anybody on this team. We haven't all year. This meeting was more about, 'Let's make that final push.' Rudy felt everybody needed to hear it. It was perfect timing." "It was all positive," added David Murphy. "We just talked about playing loose and having a clear mind. One thing mentioned is we have a roller-coaster offense. We'll have a positive mindset, and if we have a situation where we have a runner in scoring position and don't get it done, we get down easier than we should instead of keeping a positive attitude. "Sometimes you have to remind yourself how talented we are as an offense." Manager Ron Washington did not attend the meeting. He already addressed his team after their 6-1 loss to the Athletics on Tuesday night. "I told them to keep their heads up," Washington said. "We've hit a dry spell and things aren't going our way, but that's no excuse. The only way to get out of this is get a win tonight. If we get a win, things will start rolling. "They are the ones who got us this far. If we're going to go any farther, it's going to be the guys in the clubhouse who get us there. They're a good team, they've been good all year. We trust each other, now let's go play baseball." The Rangers have been able to play their games, but Washington isn't happy that his team's pregame routine has been constantly disrupted by bad weather. The Rangers normally have an hour of batting practice on the field before a game, but they have had trouble getting outside because of the constant rain. The Rangers were supposed to hit outside on Wednesday but that was canceled because of more rain. The Rangers had to hit inside instead. The Rangers have had batting practice outside just two times in the past 10 days. "You just can't go into a cage, hit some soft-toss pitching and say, 'I'm ready,'" Washington said. "They need to swing, they need to sweat, they need to take ground balls and run the bases. They need to do everything." The Rangers could also use some of their better offensive players back, but that's not going to happen immediately. Josh Hamilton, who hasn't played since Sept. 2, remains sidelined with a pinched nerve in his lower back and is backing off baseball activities for the next few days. Hamilton has had a series of injections to address the problem and began swinging the bat again on Monday. But he is still feeling some tightness. "We're going to back off baseball stuff for a couple of days and see if it will calm down," Hamilton said. "The shots did a good job of calming it down, but baseball activities are still giving me, not pain, but tightness. Tightness will lead to pain if I let it." It's unlikely that Hamilton will play in the Rangers' three-game series with the Angels that begins on Friday, but he is still hoping to return to the lineup at some point before the season ends. Asked if he might not play again this season, Hamilton said, "There's always a possibility, but I'm not counting on not playing." Michael Young was also out of the lineup on Wednesday one day after making an abbreviated return from a strained left hamstring muscle. Young, in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 1, had just one at-bat at designated hitter before having to leave the game. "It's a little stiff and a little sore, but there is no setback," Young said Wednesday. "Well ... it's not a big setback. I'm going back to work today, have a day off on Thursday and hopefully be back in there on Friday. But if it's one thing I've learned about hamstring muscles is it's day-to-day."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.