5/6/2014 4:23 P.M. ET
Saunders makes first rehab start
By Jack Etkin and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
DENVER -- Left-hander Joe Saunders made his first rehab start Tuesday, throwing 66 pitches, 44 strikes, in four innings for Double-A Frisco and allowing four hits and three runs, one unearned, with one walk and four strikeouts.
He faced Midland and yielded back-to-back homers in the fourth. Saunders, who suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle when he was struck by a line drive hit by Evan Longoria of the Rays in his first start of the season April 5. Saunders signed a minor league deal March 5 with the Rangers, who were looking for starting pitching depth.
The Rangers' rotation currently includes Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Robbie Ross Jr. After his outing Tuesday, Saunders told reporters he wants to start for the Rangers and isn't interested in pitching in a long relief role.
Manager Ron Washington emphatically said he had no interest in discussing Saunders' preferred role.
"That's not a decision I'm going to sit here and make," Washington said. "I think that's a decision we going to have a group discussion on, and Joe Saunders will be included in that group discussion. So I don't have no comment on what Joe Saunders has to say."
Martin moves up in lineup
DENVER -- Looking to inject some offense into the top of his lineup, manager Ron Washington had center fielder Leonys Martin bat second for the first time this season. Martin has made 26 starts batting eighth this season, four batting seventh, and Washington didn't make the move easily.
"I was very hesitant about moving [him]," Washington said. "He's doing well where he is. But going to see if we can get some more offense in the top of the order."
Martin is far from the prototypical No. 2 hitter, where the ability to hit-and-run, make steady contact, move runners and bunt are priorities. Washington said he was concerned about moving Martin to the top of the lineup "because he's a slasher, not an on-base-percentage guy. So until he fully learns what he's capable of doing and how to go about doing it, I try to protect him.
"This is not a permanent thing," Washington added. "It could only last tonight. But I'll try it and see if it works."
The Rangers entered Tuesday with their No. 2 hitters ranked 14th in the American League with a .535 OPS due to the struggles of Elvis Andrus, who was dropped to the bottom of the lineup Sunday in hopes he could relax.
Washington said he has been pleased with Andrus' at-bats and that he was working his way back to the No. 2 spot.
"Hopefully in the next couple days, I can get him back up there," Washington said.
Moreland waits for chance to start
DENVER -- Mitch Moreland has been succeeding at the difficult job of pinch-hitting, where his at-bats have come lately, much to the chagrin of manager Ron Washington.
Moreland is 4-for-6 as a pinch hitter this season with a double and three singles in his last four at-bats. The left-handed hitting Moreland last was in the lineup Saturday as the designated hitter when the Angels started right-hander Garrett Richards. They started a left-hander Sunday. The Rangers played at Colorado on Monday and Tuesday where there was no DH. Moreland plays first base and left field, but Washington wasn't going to take first baseman Prince Fielder or left fielder Shin-Soo Choo out of his lineup.
The Rockies are scheduled to start left-handers against the Rangers at Texas on Wednesday and Thursday. Texas will next face a right-hander on Friday when Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start for the Red Sox.
Moreland is hitting .274 (20-for-73) with five doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBIs. He's hitless in seven at-bats with four strikeouts against left-handers.
"Believe me, it bothers me that I can't get Mitch out there, because I certainly would love to have his bat in that lineup," Washington said. "You don't think I'm hurting without his bat being in that lineup? But there's nothing I can do."
In his career, Moreland has hit .231 (75-for-325) against left-handers with seven homers and 36 RBIs.
Asked whether Moreland would again be out of the lineup Wednesday, Washington said, "I don't know."
That sounded like Moreland might get a chance to start against a leff-hander. "I'm thinking about that, because we need his bat," Washington said. "But then again, I certainly don't want to put himself in a position where he's already set up to fail."
Odor makes noise at the plate in Frisco's win
Second baseman Rougned Odor, ranked second in the Rangers' system by MLB.com, had three hits and finished a single shy of the cycle Tuesday as Double-A Frisco defeated Midland, 12-7.
Odor, who is No. 54 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, extended his hitting streak to nine games. He tripled and homered in his first two plate appearances before adding a double in his final at-bat. Odor finished 3-for-5 and scored two runs.
Odor hit .231 with a .619 OPS in April, but he has rebounded from his slow start to the season. He is 16-for-38 and has homered three times during his hitting streak. In 32 games this season, Odor is hitting .279 and ranks second in the Texas League with six home runs.
One of the beneficiaries of Odor's big day was right-hander Luke Jackson, the Rangers' No. 8 prospect. Because Joe Saunders was making a rehab start in Frisco, Jackson pitched four innings in relief to earn his first career save. He struck out four batters and allowed three runs on three hits, all of which were solo home runs.
• Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff underwent surgery to have a herniated disc repaired in his lower back. The operation was performed by Dr. Robert Watkins, a noted back specialist, in Los Angeles where Kouzmanoff will stay until the end of the week.
• Jurickson Profar is expected to begin a throwing program when the Rangers return home from this road trip. He has been on the disabled list with a torn muscle in his right shoulder and is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list May 29.
• The Rangers gave up 10 extra-base hits Monday in their 8-2 loss to the Rockies, tied for the second most in the majors this season and the most since yielding a club record 13 extra-base hits on June 4, 2013, at Boston.