7/22/2013 10:50 P.M. ET
Looking for spark, Wash bats Moreland No. 2
By T.R. Sullivan and Master Tesfatsion / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland was moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Yankees, with manager Ron Washington trying to generate some production from that spot in the order.
The Rangers went into Monday's game with a collective .227 batting average and a .305 slugging percentage from the No. 2 spot, the lowest of any team in the American League. The club's .279 on-base percentage was the second lowest in the AL. Texas' No. 2 batters hit .284 with a .345 OBP last season.
From 2003-12, Rangers No. 2 hitters had a .293 batting average, the highest of any AL team. Their .450 slugging percentage was the also the highest in that span.
Moreland batted in the No. 2 spot on May 24 against the Mariners and went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in a 9-5 Rangers victory. "I just decided to put another candidate in there and hope it awakens him," Washington said.
Moreland, like just about everybody else in Texas' lineup, has been struggling lately. He was just 1-for-10 in last week's three losses to the Orioles and entered Monday hitting .193 with one home run and nine RBIs in 25 games since coming off the disabled list on June 21.
"I'm just trying to grind out at-bats and get something to hit," Moreland said. "I feel good. I'm just going up there and competing and getting a good pitch to hit and [looking to] square it up. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't."
Elvis Andrus normally hits second for the Rangers, but Washington has dropped him to the lower half of the order while the shortstop tries to get untracked from his season-long struggles.
"I just want him to have more time down there and relax him," Washington said. "I'll put him back up there at some point, but right now, I want to keep moving it around."
After BP, Berkman hopeful return is near
ARLINGTON -- On Monday, Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman participated in batting practice on the field for the first time since July 7. The switch-hitter, fighting left hip inflammation, felt better when hitting from the left side of the plate, but he said that overall, he felt pretty good.
Berkman said he's day to day at this point. He's already eligible to return to the active roster and on Saturday expressed a lack of interest in going on a rehabilitation assignment. He ran on a treadmill on Sunday and planned to do the same after taking batting practice. Berkman is hitting .254 with six home runs and 34 RBIs this season.
"Just whenever I can do the things pain free is the goal," Berkman said.
No change in Cruz's status amid investigation
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are awaiting word on how outfielder Nelson Cruz may potentially be affected by Major League Baseball's investigation into Biogenesis, the Miami-area clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to certain players.
Cruz and Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun are among the players who have been linked to the clinic, and on Monday, Braun became the first player in this case to be penalized when MLB announced that the outfielder will be suspended without pay for the remainder of the season.
"To my knowledge, there is nothing new on Nelson's situation," Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said on Monday. "There is no insight on what the Commissioner's Office or Major League Baseball's position is on it. Because it is an ongoing investigation, Major League Baseball hasn't discussed it with anybody. They have been tight-lipped on it. That's their policy."
"I guess it is what it is," Cruz said. "I don't have any comment. I'm playing the same way. I come to the ballpark thinking about winning. That's my goal."
Cruz hit his 23rd homer in Monday night's series-opening 3-0 win over the Yankees, batting third and playing right field. Cruz is the only Rangers player to have been identified as being under investigation by the Commissioner's Office.
Washington expects tighter D from Rangers
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers on Monday had a defensive meeting, something manager Ron Washington said is common throughout a season. But this meeting comes after a series in which the club didn't look sharp in the field while being swept by the Orioles.
"It's not been nice," Washington said. "There are a lot plays out there we haven't made that we're capable of making, but that doesn't make us a bad defensive club and that doesn't make the guys not making the plays bad defensive players."
On Sunday, Elvis Andrus committed a fielding error on a ground ball that Washington said should have been an automatic out, considering the shortstop's defensive ability. David Murphy, whom Washington said has played pretty well in left field, lost a ball in the sun. Both plays resulted in runs for the O's.
"Each ball hit has a different plane and a different trajectory, but the one hit yesterday was the perfect storm," Murphy said. "When the sun is low and the ball is hit high, you have a chance to move around and come at the ball from a different angle so the sun gets out of your line of sight. But that ball was hit on more of a line drive, and there wasn't time to maneuver around to get the sun out of the way. You have to use your instincts and fight the best you can. That's what I did, and the sun won."
Washington said these plays happen at times, but the defense has generally saved his club in the midst of its offensive struggles and pitching injuries.
"Every one of those plays we didn't make that extended innings, we usually make those plays," Washington said. "We just didn't make them in the first three games out of the break."
• Triple-A Round Rock right-hander Evan Meek was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for July 15-21. He threw eight shutout innings on Sunday against Iowa in his longest outing this season.
• Before Monday's game, the Rangers hadn't gained ground in the AL West for 24 straight days. They entered the night three games behind the first-place A's.
• Adrian Beltre snapped a Rangers drought of 35 innings without a home run in the ninth inning on Sunday. The last time the team had hit a home run before then was on July 13 against the Tigers.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.