04/11/2013 10:27 PM ET
Former Mariner Beltre returns to new Safeco
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Rangers played their first game at Safeco Field on Thursday night under the new dimensions. The Mariners moved their outfield fences in during the offseason, mostly from right-center all the way around to the left-field foul pole. The changes varied from four to 17 feet, but the most significant change was the left-center-field power alley that went from 390 to 376 feet.
The changes come at least four years too late for Adrian Beltre, a right-handed power hitter who played five seasons with the Mariners.
During those five years, Beltre averaged one home run every 28.48 at-bats during home games. That ranked 110th among Major League hitters during that time. Since then, Beltre has played his home games at Fenway Park in 2010 with the Red Sox and now the Ballpark in Arlington.
Over that time, Beltre is averaging a home run every 14.52 at-bats during home games. That ranks as the 10th best home run ratio for a player in his home park. Prior to signing a five-year, $64 million contract with the Mariners, Beltre had set a career high with 48 home runs with the Dodgers in 2004.
"I made it hard here," Beltre said. "I was too hard on myself. In the beginning I was trying to justify my contract. The team was losing and that wasn't fun either."
Beltre said he doesn't regret signing with the Mariners.
"It wasn't a mistake," Beltre said. "It was a choice I made. I don't regret it at all. I enjoyed my time here. I had good teammates."
Lowe remains in bullpen with Harrison on DL
SEATTLE -- Derek Lowe has made more starts in the Major Leagues than anybody on the Rangers staff. But the Rangers decided to keep him in the bullpen and called up right-hander Justin Grimm to start on Thursday night against the Mariners.
Lowe, who made the team as a reliever, has pitched just one total inning over two appearances during the first two weeks of the season.
"I haven't built up enough arm strength yet to probably start," Lowe said. "Put it this way, it was never mentioned."
The spot in the rotation came open when the Rangers put Matt Harrison on the disabled list with inflammation in his back. Manager Ron Washington said a roster move needed to be made regardless, so they decided to bring up a starter instead of a reliever to take Lowe's spot in the bullpen.
Lowe said he is fine with what he is doing.
"I pitched when I'm called upon and when they tell me to pitch," Lowe said. "I have no problem with that. They've got to do what's best for the team. This is what I signed up for. Sometimes you may go a long time between pitching and sometimes you pitch a lot."
No batting practice for pitchers this weekend
SEATTLE -- Rangers pitchers will have to hit next week during their three-game series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But manager Ron Washington isn't planning on them taking batting practice this weekend in Seattle.
High temperatures this weekend are expected in the low 50s. Washington doesn't want his pitchers messing around in the batting cages and pulling a muscle in the cold weather.
"They're going to have to go into Chicago and get it done off of what they've already done in Spring Training," Washington said. "I'm hoping to keep them in a bunting mode."
The weather forecast for Chicago isn't good for the three-game series that starts on Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s and 50s, and there is a good chance of rain all three days.
The Rangers suffered a major injury last season when Alexi Ogando strained a groin muscle beating out a bunt hit in a game against the Giants. He was on the disabled list from June 11 to July 16.
If the Rangers stay in rotation, their three starters for the Cubs series are Derek Holland, Justin Grimm and Yu Darvish. But the Rangers are off on Monday and they could use that to push Grimm back in the rotation. That would mean Holland, Darvish and Ogando against the Cubs.
Gentry to get time against right-handers
SEATTLE -- Leonys Martin started in center field for the Rangers on Thursday with right-hander Felix Hernandez on the mound for the Mariners. It was Martin's sixth start in 10 games and all have been against right-handed pitchers.
Craig Gentry, a right-handed hitter, has started four games, two against left-handers and two against right-handers. Since Martin hits left-handed, he will still get most of the starts against right-handers. But manager Ron Washington is still planning on using Gentry against some right-handed pitchers, including either Hisashi Iwakuma on Friday or Brandon Mauer on Sunday. Left-hander Joe Saunders starts on Saturday.
Washington is still feeling his way about how he'll divide up the playing time in center field. But he made two things clear. One is it will not be a strict platoon.
It is also not a tryout, with Washington looking to see who ends up winning the job. Washington said both will continue to play.
"We're fortunate to have two guys," Washington said before Thursday's game. "We've only played nine games, they're both going to play a lot of games. I hope they don't get mentally fried wondering when they're going to play. They both can play."
• The Mariners placed outfielder Michael Saunders on the disabled list and called up Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma. Chavez played for the Rangers in 2011 and was the reason why Julio Borbon lost his spot at the Major League level. The Rangers designated Borbon for assignment earlier this week and are still looking for a potential trade partner.
• Lance Berkman was back in the lineup on Thursday, one day after sitting out Wednesday's game against the Rays. The Rangers lost to the Rays, 2-0, on day when the game-time temperature was 39 degrees. Washington said the cold weather is why Berkman, who had two knee surgeries last year, didn't come off the bench and pinch-hit late in the game. Said Washington, "For him to go up in that cold weather and tweak something ... my intention was to give him a full day off."
• The Rangers drew eight walks in Wednesday's game. That's their most walks ever in a game in which they were held scoreless. They have seven walks in three previous shutouts. With five hits, they had 13 runners on base, the most in a shutout for them since June 12, 2003 against the Mets.
• Holland took the loss on Wednesday despite allowing just two runs in eight innings. It's only the fifth time in 20 years that a Rangers pitcher has taken the loss at the Ballpark in Arlington despite allowing two runs or less over eight innings.
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.