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09/19/09 7:02 PM ET
Jaramillo working harder than ever
Hitting coach finding offensive struggles tough to take
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- In the middle of the worst offensive slump in Rangers history, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo isn't looking to place the blame elsewhere. "I take full responsibility," Jaramillo said before Saturday's game with the Angels. "I'm responsible. I'm coming out here every day with a positive attitude, trying to get these guys ready. You can't do anything about yesterday; the challenge is tonight and getting some runs on the board. Obviously, we've struggled the past week, but you don't want to let that get in the way of all the good things that have happened this season." The Rangers went into Saturday's game having scored just one run in their past five games. David Murphy had a home run in Tuesday's 6-1 loss to Oakland; otherwise, the Rangers been shut out in four of their past five games. That's the first time that's ever happened to the Rangers since they came to Texas. The last American League team to score one run over five games was the 1964 Washington Senators. The Rangers remain without All-Star third baseman Michael Young, who is sidelined with a strained left hamstring, and outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has a pinched nerve in his lower back. Young tried to play on Tuesday at designated hitter, but had to leave after just one at-bat when he felt the hamstring grab. Otherwise, the two have been sidelined since the beginning of September and neither is expected to play this weekend against the Angels. "Mike is such a big leader on this team," Jaramillo said. "I think we were all waiting for him to get back, then he tried to get into the lineup and had to come out after one at-bat. He tried to do it and couldn't, and that took something out of us. "Hamilton was such a big force for us last year, you've got to remember he took a lot of pressure off other guys. We're a young team, but this is the big leagues. You have to make adjustments." Others are not blaming Jaramillo, who remains one of the most highly regarded hitting coaches in the game in this, his 15th season as the Rangers hitting coach. During his tenure, his hitters have won 17 Silver Slugger Awards, three home run titles, three RBI titles and one batting title. His hitters have won four of the last 14 AL MVP Awards. But that trophy case isn't going to be added to this season. "Rudy is working his tail off," manager Ron Washington said. "I think he's giving them the right information; now, it's up to these guys to apply it. Sometimes, the worst enemy is the player himself. He's working his tail off. I blame the guys stepping in the box for not getting it done." Washington said Jaramillo did his best job ever in 2008 when the Rangers set a Major League record for most doubles in a season. The Rangers also led the Majors with 901 runs scored, the 13th straight year that they scored at least 800 runs in a season. That streak is now in jeopardy. The Rangers went into Saturday night's game with 700 runs scored, eighth most in the AL. They have 16 games left. "Rudy is a proven Major League hitting coach," club president Nolan Ryan said. "It's like every year you're not going to lead the league in every offensive category. I think it comes back to when you commit to a youth movement, those kids are going to have to grow. You're putting them in situations where they have little experience. They have to feel their way, make adjustments and make improvements. "It's all part of it." Jaramillo is in the second year of his latest two-year contract. His players remain extremely loyal to him, but the Rangers have not begun the annual end-of-year evaluation of the coaching staff. That will happen in the next couple of weeks for all the Rangers coaches, including Jaramillo, but general manager Jon Daniels isn't publicly pointing any blame at Jaramillo. "He's not swinging the bat," Daniels said. "I don't operate like that. I don't think things are that simple. We haven't performed up to our offensive ability all year. It's just come to light in the last week or so, in the manner in which we are losing. But I've had concerns about our offense all year. I'm not looking to put the blame on any one person." Jaramillo made it clear he wants to stay with the Rangers, especially in light of their recent struggles. "I care about the kids," Jaramillo said. "I want to help them. I want to finish the job; I don't want to go out or end it like this."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.