6/17/2013 9:09 P.M. ET
Rangers rest Berkman for second straight game
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Designated hitter Lance Berkman was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Monday as the Rangers try to get him back as physically strong as possible. Berkman had two operations on his right knee last season and four total in his career, and there is a concern that has taken away some of his power at the plate.
Berkman, a switch-hitter, said he is still not able to completely straighten the leg and that impacts his swing from the left side. A left-handed hitter relies on a "firm" front right leg to plant and generate powerful bat speed. Right now that's not happening for Berkman.
"I'm not getting the same foundation as I have been in the past and that causes a variety of problems," Berkman said. "It's not painful, it's just mechanical, a mechanical adjustment I need to make. When you've been doing it one way your whole life, it's hard to make an adjustment at 37 years of age. Sometimes it takes time to have the same effect. I haven't felt right for a good while. I'll keep working at it and hopefully I'll be as explosive as I have been in the past."
Through his career, Berkman has always been considered a better left-handed hitter than right. But he went into Monday's game hitting .283 with a .467 slugging percentage from the right side and .260 with a .364 slugging percentage from the left side. For his career, he has a .578 slugging percentage from the left side and .417 from the right.
"I've never been a great right-handed hitter," Berkman said. "But right-handed I feel I'm swinging the bat well. At least I feel confident and I have a fighting chance."
Manager Ron Washington said Berkman will be back in the lineup on Tuesday. But the Rangers will likely start getting him at least one or two days off per week as the season progresses to help keep him as strong as possible.
Profar becomes youngest Rangers DH
ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington's efforts to get Jurickson Profar into the lineup led to a bit of trivia being created on Monday night. Profar, who is 20 years and 117 days old, was batting leadoff as the Rangers' designated hitter.
Profar is the youngest player to ever be used as the designated hitter in the leadoff spot since the position was created by the American League in 1973. He was also the youngest designated hitter in Rangers history. The previous youngest was Sammy Sosa, who was 20 years and 231 days on July 1, 1989, against the Mariners and Randy Johnson.
Washington normally does not like pushing young players into a prominent spot in the batting order. But Profar has handled it so far. In four previous games at the top of the order, Profar was 6-for-19 (.316) with a walk.
"If you look at what I have, we've done this before and he's responded," Washington said.
Ian Kinsler normally bats leadoff but Washington dropped him to No. 3 on Sunday to give Lance Berkman a day off. That marked the end of 306 consecutive starts for Kinsler in the leadoff spot. Kinsler batted third again on Monday but Washington said he'll be back in the leadoff spot on Tuesday when Berkman returns to the lineup.
Kinsler went into Monday's game 0-for-8 with two walks in two games since returning from the disabled list.
"My timing was a little off but [Sunday] I felt good," Kinsler said. "I felt I had good quality at-bats and my timing was back. Hopefully I can get a couple of balls to fall in."
Soria nearing rehab assignment
ARLINGTON -- Joakim Soria, who has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011, is getting ready to go on a rehab assignment. Soria threw approximately 30 pitches of live batting practice on Monday without any issues, and the next step could be pitching for Double-A Frisco as early as Thursday.
"I feel good, my arm is ready to go," Soria said. "I feel consistently good. … My command is good. There is no reason I can't go face hitters."
Soria, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on April 3, 2012, isn't sure how many outings he'll need on a 30-day rehab assignment, but it's unlikely he'll be ready before the beginning of July.
"It just depends on how I feel and how the hitters treat me," Soria said.
Soria spent five seasons as the Royals closer, saving 160 games in 2007-11 before missing all of last season. The Rangers signed him to a two-year deal in the offseason. They were hoping to have him back by June 1, but a strained muscle in the front of his right shoulder delayed his progress.
Shoulder discomfort still limiting Ogando
ARLINGTON -- Alexi Ogando remains limited to throwing on flat ground while waiting for the discomfort in his right shoulder to subside. Ogando last pitched on June 5 in Boston and is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.
But the Rangers aren't going to let him throw off a mound until the discomfort completely goes away. Ogando was on the disabled list from May 16 to June 5 with triceps tendinitis and now he is sidelined with shoulder inflammation. At some point Ogando will need to go on a rehab assignment but that won't happen until he has at least a couple of bullpen sessions off the mound.
Colby Lewis threw off the mound on Monday for the first time since being shut down with soreness in the back of his right elbow. But Lewis, who had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon on July 27 last year, will likely need several more mound sessions before facing hitters. He was shut down from his rehab assignment and hasn't pitched in a game since May 25.
• On Monday, the Rangers signed right-hander Cole Wiper, their 10th-round Draft pick out of the University of Oregon.
• Infielder Jeff Baker remains sidelined with a sprained right thumb. The Rangers are hoping he can play on Wednesday when left-hander Tommy Milone pitches for the Athletics. Washington said the Rangers have not discussed putting Baker on the disabled list.
• The 17th round of the First-Year Player Draft has been good to the Rangers. They found both Kinsler and Mitch Moreland in the 17th round, and now second baseman Ryan Rua is emerging. The Rangers took him in the 17th round of the 2011 Draft out of Lake Erie College, and he is currently hitting .251 with 22 home runs and 61 RBIs for Class A Hickory. He is tied for the league lead in home runs and RBIs and is third in slugging percentage.
• Going into Monday night, opponents were 0-for-24 off reliever Joe Nathan since he gave up a game-tying, 11th-inning home run to Seattle's Raul Ibanez on May 26.
• The Rangers faced two straight starting pitchers who wear No. 67: Chien-Ming Wang for the Blue Jays on Sunday and Dan Straily for the Athletics on Monday.
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.