7/25/2013 3:45 P.M. ET
Content with approach, Andrus finds stroke
By Master Tesfatsion / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The issue with the No. 2 spot in the Rangers' lineup seems to be resolved. Elvis Andrus hit second on Thursday against the Yankees for the second time in as many games and will likely remain there for the rest of the season.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said the shortstop has shortened his swing again, enabling a mini-hitting streak that Andrus extended to seven games with a single in the first inning on Thursday. Andrus entered Texas' series finale with the visiting Yankees hitting .278 with seven RBIs and 15 runs scored in his last 25 games.
"I got mad a little bit when they put so many guys [in the No. 2 spot]," Andrus said. "It makes it look like they don't trust me lately, but I know [Washington] was trying to take some pressure off me. He talked to me about it, and I was cool with it. You've got to understand to be a professional, whether you're doing good or doing wrong. It was a tough moment for me in the first half, but now in the second half, I feel way better. I feel my approach is back. I feel comfortable having a plan, and now I can execute it."
Washington said there will still be certain situations when Andrus will bat at the bottom of the lineup, but his opposite-field hit from the No. 2 spot in Wednesday's 3-1 win further proved that Andrus is on the right path.
"I might've seen an anxious guy, but I've never seen him not relaxed," Washington said. "He's been working his butt off, and hopefully it comes together, because he can do it."
Despite Andrus' troubles at the plate in the first half, he remained fairly consistent defensively. He also became the first player in Rangers history to record five straight seasons with 20 stolen bases.
"Last year I learned something good, and that's to separate offense from defense, and that's the way it should be for everybody," Andrus said. "It doesn't matter how you're hitting or running -- it can't affect the way you're playing defense. I think defense has to be an everyday thing.
"Hitting is not that easy. I think everybody knows that, but the difference is consistency. If you can go daily out there and help the pitchers, it makes a lot of difference."
Wetteland helps Rangers pay tribute to Mo
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers honored Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday with a few Texas-themed gifts before his final regular-season game at Rangers Ballpark.
The Majors' all-time saves leader received a cowboy hat as well as a custom pair of boots with his name and the Yankees logo stitched on the front. The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation also presented Rivera with a $5,000 check for his foundation. Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, closer Joe Nathan and former Rangers and Yankees closer John Wetteland took part in the ceremony.
"When you look back, from where he started and the process of how Mariano Rivera -- not a scared kid, but a wide-eyed kid -- becomes arguably, then far and away, the greatest closer that ever lived, you can kind of see it now," said Wetteland, who was the Yankees' closer during the 1996 World Series, with Rivera setting him up.
Rangers manager Ron Washington pointed to Rivera's ability to locate his cutter as the reason for the closer's success. While hitters may know the pitch is coming, Washington said Rivera has hardly hurt himself with a lack of command.
"He set a standard that I don't think anyone will ever [match]," Washington said. "He's automatic, and any other other adjective that you can find to describe him in a bright, bright, bright, bright light, that's what you do. Class act."
Garza focused on present, not free agency
ARLINGTON -- In winning Wednesday night's start, his first since being acquired from the Cubs on Monday, Matt Garza showed a glimpse of the value he can provide the Rangers during a possible postseason run, and the right-hander clearly knows his role this season.
But what about next season? Garza's contract expires at the end of the year, and the club wouldn't receive a compensatory Draft pick if it can't re-sign Garza in the offseason.
"I couldn't be more happy being in a place where I'm at, a place where i'm wanted, been wanted," said Garza, who has played for three teams in the last four years. "It's awesome. I've been traded three times now, and I'm going to go out there and do my job."
Garza said the Rangers' clubhouse has embraced him since he arrived on Tuesday. General manager Jon Daniels said on Monday that he'll revisit the subject of re-signing Garza when the offseason arrives. He's hoping the desire for a new contract will be mutual between the Rangers and Garza, but the club still has Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez under control for the next few years. Texas has signed left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison to extensions in the last two years, and ace Yu Darvish is locked up until 2018. Right-hander Colby Lewis signed a one-year deal in the offseason and is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent last July.
"Yeah, who doesn't?" Garza said when asked if he wants to settle down with one team. "But right now, I've just got to stay focused for every five days. That's it. I love Texas. ... My main goal right now is to help this team get to October, and everything else will fall into place."
• The Rangers scored a run in the first inning of two of their first three games against the Yankees. They won both games, improving to 16-2 when they plate a run in the opening frame.
• Adrian Beltre entered Thursday having gone a career-long 74 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It's the longest active streak in the Majors.
• Garza became just the fourth pitcher in Rangers history to work at least 7 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run in his debut with the club.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.