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09/23/09 10:04 PM ET
On brink of 30-30, Kinsler takes breather
Rangers star sits one homer, one swipe shy of milestone
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Ian Kinsler was given a day off on Wednesday as he stood one home run and one stolen base short of a well-known baseball milestone. Kinsler needs one of each to reach a 30-30 season and become only the second player in Rangers history to accomplish the feat. But Kinsler also has just three hits in his last 30 at-bats, so manager Ron Washington decided to give him a day off. "It's just a rest day," Washington said. "He just needs a break. When he came back from the hamstring injury, I thought he was starting to get his stroke back. It's been a battling season for him. But he's put up good numbers. He's scored runs, and he's driven them in." Kinsler's bid for 30-30 shows that he has been productive on two fronts this season. He also went into Wednesday's game leading the Rangers with both 89 runs scored and 80 RBIs, even though he was on the disabled list from July 29-Aug. 13 with a strained left hamstring. "Honestly, I think it could have been a lot better year personally," Kinsler said. "But as a team we have played very well. I missed 15 days for one stretch, but other than that, I have basically played every day and contributed a lot. There is still a lot to build on. "Obviously my power numbers were there but ... I still think my best seasons are ahead of me and there is a lot to work for." Kinsler was an All-Star in 2008, batting .318 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .517 slugging percentage. All those numbers are down this season. He is hitting .249 with a .320 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage. The drops in batting average and on-base percentage are significant. "Last year, I was very consistent," Kinsler said. "I didn't have too many droughts ... maybe one after the All-Star break for four or five games, but that's it. This year has been up and down. I need to combine the two seasons into one. "The game will humble you if you fail. I have Michael Young to watch. He's so consistent year in and year out. There's not too many guys better to learn from as far as offensive consistency." Kinsler bristled at the suggestion that he might be coming power happy and sacrificing himself in other areas. "You're only as good as your last game," Kinsler said. "That's what we're coming to: instant gratification. People forget about last year or the year before. Since I have a career-high in home runs, I guess I'm power happy, even though I'm not trying to do anything different. "For the most part, this year I have been up and down. Obviously I have been inconsistent, but I have the same idea in batting practice and the same thoughts in the cage. I need to get better." Washington said it comes down to better pitch selection. Kinsler is a low-ball hitter, Washington said. If he can keep from chasing pitches up in the zone and make pitchers get the ball down, Washington said Kinsler will be fine. "More than anything, it's not his swing but his pitch selection," Washington said. "He is always going to be a run producer but his consistency will come with pitch selection." Kinsler said he views himself as a player with the combination of both speed and power, and he wants to be able to use both in a game. "That's my game," Kinsler said. "Some days I can give you a 1-for-4 with a three-run home run and other days I'll go 3-for-4 with three singles a couple of stolen bases. I don't go into a game saying I'm going to be a power guy or a speed guy. A lot of it is dictated by the situation in the game when I come to bat and what the score is. "I just try to be a spark, whether it's with a double, home run or stolen base. That's my thought at the plate."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.