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10/06/10 12:27 PM ET

Rangers sacrifice defense at first in ALDS

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers went with Mitch Moreland and Jorge Cantu as their first basemen for the American League Division Series against the Rays, leaving Chris Davis off the series roster. Manager Ron Washington said Moreland earned the spot but also knows he is sacrificing defense.

Davis is considered an outstanding defensive player while Moreland is still learning the position. He played both first base and the outfield in the Minor Leagues.

"He's adequate," Washington said. "There's certainly room for improvement. There are some things we have to work on, but he's not a liability. As a group we're all trying to improve defensively. We can all be better."

Cantu, a right-handed hitter, started at first against left-hander David Price for Game 1 on Wednesday. Moreland will start in Game 2 against right-hander James Shields. But Cantu could replace Moreland defensively late in the game if the Rangers have a lead.

"That's something we've discussed and something we'll think about," Washington said.

Rangers juggle Borbon, Murphy vs. righties

ST. PETERSBURG -- Julio Borbon will be starting in the Rangers' outfield on Thursday in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. On Saturday, he will be replaced by David Murphy when the series resumes for Game 3 at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Manager Ron Washington, when all his outfielders have been healthy, has been using both against right-handed starters throughout the season in an outfield that also includes Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz.

But Washington said he wanted Borbon against Game 2 starter James Shields and Murphy against Matt Garza, who is pitching Game 3. Both are right-handers.

"Shields has got some quick off-speed stuff and Garza has a good fastball," Washington said. "Murphy is more conducive to facing the good fastball. Shields has a good fastball, but it's not as electric as Garza."

Murphy has been dealing with a mild strain in his left groin muscle but is on the playoff roster and ready to go. He's not full speed, but the Rangers expect him to be in the outfield on Saturday.

Murphy is 2-for-8 off Shields in his career and 5-for-22 with a home run off Garza. Borbon is 4-for-9 off Shields and 1-for-10 off Garza.

Hamilton will be in left field when Borbon is in the lineup and will switch to center field on Saturday with Murphy in left. For Game 1, the Rangers went with the outfield they use against left-handers with Jeff Francoeur in right, Hamilton in center and Nelson Cruz in left.

Washington says Rangers relaxed, ready

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Joe Maddon had the Rolling Stones playing in his clubhouse, going with "Start Me Up." Rangers manager Ron Washington kept his music confined to his office.

"I had a little Bobby Womack and a little Johnny Taylor," Washington said. "But then people started flooding in and I had to turn it off."

Washington was planning to meet with his team before Game 1 on Wednesday but wasn't planning on a long speech.

"I really don't have anything planned," Washington said. "Just go from the heart ... short and sweet. Let's go."

Asked about the Rangers mood on Wednesday, Washington said, "When I walk through the clubhouse, I can tell when it's relaxed and when it's not. I don't see any change in their attitude or demeanor.

"Now it's a matter of going out and playing our type of baseball. The main thing I tell them is maintain your confidence."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.