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08/11/12 12:58 AM ET

After sitting two games, Napoli returns to lineup

ARLINGTON -- Catcher Mike Napoli started for the first time since Monday as he returned to the Rangers' lineup after missing two games with a sore left quad.

Geovany Soto started Tuesday and Wednesday against the Red Sox before the Rangers got an off-day on Thursday, giving Napoli more time to rest before Friday's series opener against the Tigers.

"We planned it so that Soto caught the last two games in Boston and then we have the off-day, then hopefully things quiet down a little bit and [Napoli] can go out there and do his thing," manager Ron Washington said. "But he was never totally down. If I needed him in Boston, he could have went out there and caught."

Napoli, who is 0-for-10 with six strikeouts in his last three games, has not recorded a hit since going 3-for-4 in a win over the Angels on Aug. 1 and is batting .179 in his last 40 games. He started at catcher on Friday and batted eighth.

"It feels fine," Napoli said of his quad. "I'm getting treatment every day and taking it one game at a time. It's been bothering me ever since the Boston series."

Cruz feels better after exiting loss with stiff back

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Nelson Cruz left the Rangers' 6-2 loss to the Tigers on Friday night with lower back stiffness but believes he'll be able to play on Saturday.

He dived for and missed a sinking liner hit by Austin Jackson in the seventh inning and was replaced by Craig Gentry in the top of the eighth. The ball rolled to the right-field wall as Jackson raced around the bases for his first career inside-the-park home run and the first hit by an opponent at the Ballpark in Arlington in six years.

"I feel better now," Cruz said. "It was kind of stiff and tight. I did a few stretches and iced it, so hopefully I'll be good for tomorrow."

Two batters later, Miguel Cabrera lifted a routine fly ball to right that fell in and out of Cruz's glove. Cabrera slid in safely to second base as Cruz committed his second error of the season. He was 2-for-3 before being pulled.

"I felt like I closed my eyes," Cruz said. "I have no excuse. I should've caught the ball. I guess I was out of focus."

"I don't know if [the back stiffness] affected him on the dropped ball," manager Ron Washington said. "I just think he dropped it. That's a lot of poundage hitting the ground. He had a stiff back so he came out, got some treatment and he's feeling better. I think he'll be able to play tomorrow."

Palmeiro says Bonds, Clemens deserve Hall call

ARLINGTON -- Despite being one of only four players to hit 500 home runs and collect 3,000 hits in his career, Rafael Palmeiro got just 12.6 percent of the Hall of Fame vote last year.

But it's all-time home run king Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens -- who, like Palmeiro, have attracted well-documented negative sentiments related to performance-enhancing drugs -- whom he believes deserve spots in the Hall of Fame.

"Keep them out and the Hall of Fame has no credibility," said Palmeiro, who is in Arlington for Saturday's celebration after being voted by fans as a member of the Rangers' All-Time Team. "You're talking about, in my opinion, probably the best pitcher of all-time and the greatest player of all-time. Clemens and Bonds, 10 years before they retired, they were the best players in the game. These guys dominated the game before anything was mentioned about anything."

A four-time All-Star, Palmeiro racked up 569 home runs, 1,835 RBIs and 3,020 hits in his career. The Rangers' all-time leader with 805 walks, Palmeiro walked more (1,353) than he struck out (1,348) during his 20 seasons in the big leagues.

"I know what kind of career I had," Palmeiro said. "I can look at myself in the mirror and feel good and proud of what I accomplished. The Hall of Fame would be icing on the cake but if it doesn't happen, I'm fine with it. I will accept that and move on."

Ryan pleased with Rangers' recent production

ARLINGTON -- After scoring a Major League-low 81 runs in a July that saw the Rangers win just nine games, they have pushed 59 runs across in eight August games, going 6-2 this month entering Friday.

Josh Hamilton has driven in as many runs in August as he did in July (11) while going 6-for-13 in his last three games. Entering Friday, Ian Kinsler was batting .400 this month while Michael Young was riding a nine-game hitting streak.

"They're such a big part of our ballclub and the success of our club," team president and CEO Nolan Ryan said. "If you look at all three of them over the last week or so, I think they're swinging the bats better. I think they're more productive and I think that's why we've seen the club playing on the level that it has lately."

The Rangers went into this week's series against the Tigers with a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League West despite the starting pitchers going 3-1 with a 6.56 ERA in eight starts this month. The Rangers have gotten just four quality starts in their last 13 games.

"I think this year has been a unique year because we have had a lot of injuries to our starting staff, and in the past we haven't," Ryan said. "If you look at all starting pitching throughout the season, they have spells where they really throw the ball well and maintain their stuff, and then they'll go through periods where they don't throw it well and struggle."

Lowe activated as Rangers designate Gonzalez

ARLINGTON -- Rangers right-handed reliever Mark Lowe was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday afternoon. To make room, infielder Alberto Gonzalez was designated for assignment.

Lowe was placed on the DL on June 29 with a strained right intercostal muscle and last pitched June 25 against the Tigers when he tied a career high by tossing three scoreless innings. Before getting hurt, he had not allowed a run in his last six outings, spanning nine innings. Lowe allowed four runs in his first three rehab outings, all with Double-A Frisco, before pitching one scoreless inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Monday and Tuesday.

"I've been feeling good for about a week now," Lowe said. "They probably wanted me to go through all the stuff we go through in Spring Training -- the two out of three, the two innings, the back-to-back -- I think it was all part of the plan. I did a little bit of everything."

With Lowe being activated and a position player in Gonzalez being removed from the roster, the Rangers have eight available relievers.

"We needed to keep our long man down there, which is [Michael] Kirkman," manager Ron Washington said. "We're going through a stretch with the Tigers and the Yankees, they're good hitting teams. We've got to make sure we've got enough pitching."

In 24 games, Gonzalez batted .241 with four RBIs. He last played in a loss to the Royals on Sunday, when he replaced an injured Elvis Andrus at shortstop and committed an error in the 10th inning before the Rangers gave up the go-ahead run.

Worth noting

• Recently signed Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras, 17, took batting practice at the Ballpark in Arlington and took a physical before Friday's game.

• Reliever Koji Uehara, who has been on the disabled list since June 15 with a strained lat, threw a bullpen session on Friday. He began a rehab assignment in Triple-A Round Rock on July 14 before a setback forced him to miss more time.

• The Rangers handed out Minor League Player of the Month honors for July on Thursday. Class A short-season Spokane right-hander C.J. Edwards was named Pitcher of the Month; low Class A Hickory second baseman Alejandro Selen was Player of the Month; Hickory shortstop Rougned Odor was Defender of the Month; and Class A advanced Myrtle Beach right-hander Ben Rowen was Reliever of the Month.

• Ian Kinsler stole his 20th base of the year in Wednesday's win over the Red Sox, becoming the first player in Rangers history to steal at least 20 bases in five seasons. His 156 career stolen bases leave him five shy of the team record set by Bump Willis.

Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.