8/21/2013 7:43 P.M. ET
Gentry ready for action as Texas faces run of lefties
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Erik Bedard was on the mound for the Astros on Wednesday, the first of five straight left-handers the Rangers are expected to face in their next five games. The White Sox are listing left-handers Chris Sale, Hector Santiago and John Danks this weekend and Joe Saunders is expected to start on Monday for the Mariners in Seattle.
The run ends with the Mariners expecting to go with right-handers Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez in the final two games of that three-game series. The Rangers, going into Wednesday night, were 24-13 when the opposing team started a left-hander.
The run of lefties likely means five straight starts for Jeff Baker at first base and Craig Gentry in left field. Manager Ron Washington is settling into a platoon situation with those two, left-fielder David Murphy and first baseman Mitch Moreland.
Leonys Martin has become the Rangers' full-time center fielder, but Gentry has still earned playing time by hitting .326 with a .429 on-base percentage since the All-Star break. He is hitting .273 with a .381 on-base percentage and a .386 slugging percentage against left-handers this season, while Murphy is hitting .228 with a .275 on-base and a .297 slugging percentage against southpaws.
"I'll just take a little vacation and be ready to come off the bench," Murphy said. "This is the way it was last year and it worked out. Craig has done a great job against left-handers. If that's the best situation for the team, that's fine with me."
Baker is hitting .348 against left-handers, the highest average on the team. Moreland is hitting .239 against them. With Jurickson Profar filling all the other infield positions as a utility player, the only real chance to get Baker in the lineup is by playing first base against left-handers.
"That's the way it's going," Moreland said. "We're doing everything we can to win ballgames, that's definitely the spot we want to be in and everybody is contributing in some way or another. I'll be there when my number is called upon and do what I can do. Just because I'm not starting doesn't mean I won't be in there later in a key at-bat or be called upon to make a key play."
Pierzynski ready for Chicago return
ARLINGTON -- Catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be making his return to U.S. Cellular Field on Friday when the Rangers open a three-game series with the White Sox. Pierzynski was with the White Sox from 2005-12 and has caught more games at U.S. Cellular Field than any other catcher since it opened in 1991. He is also third all-time in games caught in White Sox history behind Sherm Lollar and Carlton Fisk.
"I will be glad to get it over with, especially Friday," Pierzynski said. "But I'm looking forward to it and seeing some people. I still have a lot of friends over there, guys who I will be friends with for life. It will be weird going into the visitor's clubhouse, but I'm looking forward to going to the city. I love the city, I love the organization and I love the fans. Hopefully we'll go in there and play well."
Also returning to the South Side is Alex Rios, who'll face the White Sox for the first time since he was traded to the Rangers on Aug. 9.
Geovany Soto is going back to Chicago as well. He played with Cubs from 2005-12, but he has already had his big reunion. The Rangers played three games at Wrigley Field earlier this season.
Soto, a right-handed hitter, should start at least one game with three left-handers on the mound for the White Sox. But Pierzynski is having an excellent season against left-handed pitchers. He has a .305 average against them this season, the sixth highest by a left-handed hitter with at least 100 at-bats against southpaws in the American League.
Kirkman vies for September spot
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will want extra left-handed relievers when the rosters expand in September. Michael Kirkman is trying to force his way into the picture.
Kirkman threw five scoreless innings for Triple-A Round Rock in a 7-5 victory over Nashville on Tuesday in his fourth outing on a medical-rehabilitation assignment. Kirkman retired 15 of 16 batters, including seven by strikeouts.
In his two previous outings, Kirkman had allowed 14 runs in 8 1/3 innings. He'll likely get two more outings before the end of the month. Kirkman was 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA in 25 appearances for the Rangers before going on the disabled list on June 6 to undergo treatment for skin cancer.
"He's still on the radar," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
The other left-handed relief candidate for September is Joseph Ortiz, who is 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA in 17 games at Round Rock. He has also made 25 appearances for the Rangers with a record of 2-1 and a 3.96 ERA. Round Rock's season ends on Sept. 2 and the Express is not going to be in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
Harris signs Minor League deal
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have signed veteran utility infielder Brendan Harris to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock. He is not on the 40-man roster, but he does give the organization some infield depth if needed in September.
Harris is similar to Adam Rosales, a light-hitting infielder who can play every spot plus left field if needed. He hit .206 with four home runs and nine RBIs in 44 games for the Angels this season before being designated for assignment on July 20.
He refused outright assignment and became a free agent on July 23. The Yankees signed him to a Minor League contract and he played 22 games at Triple-A Scranton before being released from his contract on Wednesday. The Rangers are the 12th organization he has played for since 2003.
• Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers will stay in rotation and Travis Blackley will start again on Monday against the Mariners. Blackley, in his first start of the season, threw 66 pitches on Tuesday against the Astros and the Rangers are hoping for 80 on Monday.
• Nick Tepesch, who has been on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow since July 7, threw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday and did not experience any problems. His next step will be a live batting practice session this weekend in Chicago.
• Adrian Beltre went into Wednesday's game listed among the American League's top 10 in average, home runs and RBIs. He and Miguel Cabrera are the only players in either league to be in the top 10 in all three categories. Beltre is third with a .326 batting average, ninth with 26 home runs and tied for eighth with 78 RBIs.
• Reliever Justin Miller, who is still on the 40-man roster, has been placed on the DL at Triple-A Round Rock with a pulled left oblique muscle. He already missed most of the season while coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and pitched in just 11 games.
• David Perez, who is the No. 20 prospect in the Rangers system according to MLB.Com, is beginning a medical rehabilitation assignment with the Arizona Rookie League Rangers. He has been out all year while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
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.