9/16/2013 11:13 P.M. ET
Amid struggles, Rangers hold players-only meeting
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers, having lost six straight games and 12 of their last 15, held a players-only meeting before Monday's game against the Rays. Veteran infielders Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler were among those who spoke.
"It was a good meeting," outfielder David Murphy said. "We talked about what we've been going through the last week or two. Everybody is back on the same page. We're basically ready to give it everything we've got and put our best effort out there the last 14 games."
The Rangers were swept by the Athletics over the weekend and are 6 1/2 games behind them in the American League West, but they went into Monday's game tied with the Rays for the top Wild Card spot, a half-game ahead of the Indians. The Orioles were 2 1/2 games behind, the Yankees are three back and the Royals are trailing by 3 1/2. Following their four-game series with the Rays, the Rangers play three against the Royals this weekend in Kansas City.
As far as the players meeting, manager Ron Washington said, "I'm glad they did that, but I just don't want them to just talk about it. I want them to go out and do it on the field. It's not what they say, it's what they do."
Washington held a team meeting during the last road trip and one in August in Cleveland.
"I've had many meetings," he said. "I don't feel like I need to hold another one."
Magadan hopeful offense will rebound
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hitting coach Dave Magadan is as frustrated as anybody with the Rangers' lack of offense lately, but he believes his club has the talent to get turned around before it runs out of time.
The Rangers' biggest problem is their inability to hit consistently with runners in scoring position. They are hitting .225 in those situations in losing 12 of their last 15 games, and they went 1-for-10 on Sunday against the A's.
"It's a combination of a lot of things," Magadan said before Monday's game with the Rays. "Obviously, [hitting with] runners in scoring position has not been good. To be successful in those situations, you have to have a good plan, use the whole field and swing at strikes. The ambush plan [of swinging early] is not the plan. The pitcher is going to go with his out pitch earlier in the count in those situations, so you have to work through that and get a good pitch to hit. I thought we were better [on Sunday], we hit some balls hard in the opposite direction. It's a step in the right direction, but we've got to be better.
"You've got to stay the course. You can't switch philosophies. There have been periods of time where we have been good at it. But when you're not hitting with a lot of power, you have to find other ways to score. Right now we're not doing that. We know the guys in this room are capable of being better."
The Rangers went into Monday homerless in their last six games -- their longest such streak since 1995. They have also not been scoring early. Texas has not had a lead at any point during its six-game losing streak and has been outscored, 14-3, in the first four innings of those games.
Magadan is the Rangers' fifth hitting coach in the last five years. He was hired away from the Red Sox this past winter.
"I've been doing this a long time," he said. "When it's your first year with a ballclub, you want everything to go great. It's not just scoring a lot of runs; you don't want the offense to be the reason you're not winning. If you're scoring enough runs to win, that's all you can ask. But when you're not winning because you're not scoring runs, it's tough."
Moreland back in lineup; Murphy out
ST. PETERSBURG -- First baseman Mitch Moreland was in the lineup after sitting out Sunday's game against the Athletics, but David Murphy was not. Jim Adduci was in left field and Lance Berkman at designated hitter with right-hander Alex Cobb on the mound for the Rays.
Murphy's playing time has been reduced in September. He is hitting .172 in his last 24 games, dropping his season average to .220, but manager Ron Washington said he's not sitting Murphy out completely.
"I'm going to keep giving him a chance here or there," Washington said. "He might be the one I'm looking for at the right time. Murphy has done a lot for us over the years. This year he has been struggling, but I'm still going to give him a game. I'm just not sure when. He understands. He knows what's happening."
Adduci went into Monday's game 7-for-17 with two walks since being called up at the beginning of September. All of his hits have been singles.
"I know I can hit, but it has been a challenging year," Murphy said. "But I've been on some great teams, and this is still a very talented team. We still have a great opportunity to get to the World Series and be the last team standing. However I can help, I'll be ready."
Moreland went into Monday's game hitless in his last 21 games, including 14 strikeouts. Washington gave him Sunday off to clear his head.
"I think Mitch sometimes is a little hard on himself," hitting coach Dave Magadan said. "Whenever he goes [hitless], he thinks he has to change something or do something to get back on track. As he learns and grows and understands himself, he'll learn to stay with it, trust it and trust what he's doing to get through the tough times.
"When you keep making changes, it makes it tough. You put a lot of pressure on yourself. You are always in a search mode instead of [thinking], 'This is what I am, and I'm going to ride it out.' You don't want it to be a detriment to your development. We all know Mitch had tremendous success at the Minor League level, and he's had success at the Major League level. He's hit 22 home runs. It's in him, but we've got to strive for consistency and spread it out over 600 plate appearances."
Rangers tab Ogando to start on Tuesday
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers are putting Alexi Ogando back in the rotation. Ogando will make his first start since Aug. 13 when he pitches against the Rays on Tuesday.
Ogando has thrown six scoreless innings in four games as a reliever since coming off the disabled list. His last outing was on Sunday, when he put up 1 2/3 scoreless innings (20 pitches) against the Athletics.
"He has been throwing the ball well," manager Ron Washington said. "Maybe we can get three or four innings out of him. We're going to give him a chance to do it."
Ogando is 5-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 15 starts. He has been on the DL three times this season -- the last time for inflammation in his right shoulder -- but the Rangers believe he is finally healthy.
"Now he has freedom, and his arm is working better," Washington said. "He doesn't feel discomfort. His velocity is up, and he's even got more bite on his slider. It's not spinning, it's snapping."
• The Rangers remain undecided about Tuesday's starting pitcher. Manager Ron Washington said that the choice will depend on who is needed out of the bullpen on Monday. Right-hander Nick Tepesch is a leading candidate, but Ross Wolf, Alexi Ogando and left-hander Travis Blackley are all being considered.
• Infielder Jurickson Profar hasn't been in the starting lineup for four straight games and probably won't start on Tuesday either, as Washington wants to give Lance Berkman a chance to swing the bat at designated hitter. Washington will probaly start Profar at some point during the four-game series with the Rays to give some of his other infielders time down at designated hitter. Said Washington: "He's the utility player, so that's the role he has to play."
• Matt Harrison, who is recovering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, turned 28 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.