04/25/10 2:28 PM ET
Rangers being cautious with Saltalamacchia
Club not ready to recall catcher from rehab assignment
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Hamilton gets first day off
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton was given his first day off on Sunday with David Murphy starting in left field. Hamilton had a three-hit game on Wednesday in Boston, but is 2-for-13 since, including 1-for-5 on Saturday. "He just looked a little sluggish last night," manager Ron Washington said. "This gives me another chance to get Murphy in there and give Hamilton a chance to re-energize himself."Murphy went into Sunday's game with three hits in 22 at-bats, including going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on Friday. Shortstop Elvis Andrus and third baseman Michael Young are the only two players who have started every game.
Rangers starters lagging in innings pitched
ARLINGTON -- Rangers starters averaged 6 1/3 innings per start over their first 10 games, but are down to 4 1/3 innings per start in their last seven.
The starters also went at least six innings in eight of their first 10 starts, but C.J. Wilson is the only starter to go six innings over the last seven. On Saturday night, Scott Feldman lasted just 3 2/3 innings, and the Rangers needed 4 1/3 scoreless innings from Doug Mathis to get through the game without wrecking the bullpen.
The 'pen, going into Sunday, is third in the American League in innings pitched, and Mathis is tied with four other pitchers for most relief innings in the league with 12. Dustin Nippert and Mathis are two of 13 AL relievers who have pitched at least 10 innings.
"It's putting a heavy load on the bullpen, but some guys have been stepping up," manager Ron Washington said. "Mathis stepped up and saved us. We certainly want to see these guys get deeper. Having to pick up four or five innings every night, sooner or later, is going to hurt you. Those guys have to go deeper in the game, no doubt about it."
Second baseman Ian Kinsler (sprained right ankle) is expected to start a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Monday. ... The Rangers, going into Sunday's game, had held a four-run lead in their last three losses. ... Justin Smoak had walks in his first two games with the Rangers. The last player to do that was Ruben Mateo on June 12-13, 1999.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.