5/24/2014 9:05 P.M. ET
Wash experiments with Prince-less lineup
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The absence of Prince Fielder is causing manager Ron Washington to experiment with his lineup, trying to find the right combination. It remains a steep uphill challenge trying to camouflage the loss of Fielder.
On Saturday, Washington moved Shin-Soo Choo back in the leadoff spot and inserted Mitch Moreland in the No. 3 spot for the first time in his career.
"We'll just see how Mitch handles the No. 3 hole," Washington said. "I'm just trying to get something that works daily. I'm going to try a lot of things."
Washington tried Leonys Martin in the leadoff spot on Friday night, but he was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. So Martin was in the seventh spot on Saturday.
"Right now he just hasn't come to the point in his career where he is disciplined," Washington said. "He's still learning to hit with two strikes. He is a very aggressive guy, if you take that away, you lose who Martin is."
Choo went into Saturday's game hitting .209 but with a .343 on-base percentage with two strikes. Martin was hitting .173 but with a .215 on-base percentage in two-strike counts. Choo can afford to be patient as a leadoff hitter because he can handle two-strike counts. Martin doesn't have that ability yet.
"He tries too hard to be a leadoff hitter," Washington said. "We want him to be Martin."
Catcher Chris Gimenez, who had four hits on Thursday, was in the No. 6 spot and Donnie Murphy was in the No. 8 spot as the Rangers' right-handed designated hitter with a right-hander on the mound for the Tigers. Gimenez went into the game with a career .209 batting average and a .298 slugging percentage. He was also hitting .157 against right-handed pitchers. Murphy was hitting .192 against right-handers this season and .215 for his career.
Left ankle soreness has Choo day to day
DETROIT -- Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo is having more trouble with his left ankle and may have to miss Sunday's game against the Tigers.
Choo had to come out of Saturday's 12-2 victory in the sixth inning because of the soreness. Choo said he is not sure if he'll be able to play on Sunday.
"I can't tell right now," Choo said on Saturday. "I'll have to wait and see how it feels tomorrow."
Choo originally sprained the ankle on April 21 against the Athletics and missed five games. He has been dealing with the problem since then and has served as the Rangers' designated hitter 10 times this season. That may be an option on Sunday.
Saunders returns to rotation in place of Baker
DETROIT -- Joe Saunders is returning to the rotation and is scheduled to pitch against the Twins on Wednesday in Minnesota.
Saunders will replace Scott Baker, who allowed six runs in six innings in a 7-2 loss to the Tigers on Friday. Saunders has been sidelined since his first and only start on April 4 with a stress fracture in his left ankle. He was 0-2 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts on a rehab assignment.
The Rangers have three options with Baker.
The Rangers could put Baker in the bullpen but there doesn't appear to be any room. Two of the younger relievers -- Aaron Poreda and Shawn Tolleson -- have pitched well in middle relief. Poreda has a 3.00 ERA while Tolleson has a 3.33 ERA.
They could have Baker replace rookie Nick Martinez in the rotation. But right now Martinez is throwing as good as anybody on the staff. The Rangers could also put Baker through outright waivers and send him back to Triple-A Round Rock. Baker could also refuse the assignment and become a free agent, although he declined that earlier this month when he cleared waivers.
Ogando still searching for consistency
DETROIT -- Alexi Ogando pitched two innings against the Tigers on Friday night, allowing one run on two hits and a walk. He has pitched in 24 games, has a 6.65 ERA, a 1.89 WHIP and opponents are hitting .315 off him. He can be dominating one day and ineffective the next.
The Rangers need Ogando to sustain an extended run of success because they see him as their best chance right now for a dominating setup reliever in front of closer Joakim Soria. But the consistency is not there.
"He has taken to some of the things we have worked on, but he has to continue to work on repeating his delivery," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "He is staying downhill through the ball better and getting more extension and making more decent pitches. He just needs to be consistent on pitch quality and repeating his delivery."
Ogando averages 94 miles per hour on his fastball, second highest on the team. Aaron Poreda is 94.8. Ogando has also had an effective changeup, but his slider has been erratic. Ogando said he sometimes gets in trouble by trying to overthrow.
"I need to take take it easy, make my stride [downhill] and throw a strike," Ogando said. "It's something I'm working on."
Three former Rangers picks could go high
DETROIT -- Jim Callis of MLB.com did a mock draft earlier this week in preparation for the real First-Year Player Draft that is scheduled for June 5-7. Callis had the Brewers taking catcher Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State with the 12th overall pick, TCU pitcher Brandon Finnegan going to the Indians at No. 21 and Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher going to the Indians with the 31st overall pick.
Callis has Pentecost being the highest catcher taken in the Draft. Fisher could go higher but he missed significant time this season because of a broken hamate bone in his right hand. A shoulder issue has created some uncertainty about Finnegan but he is still considered a first-round talent.
All three names are familiar to the Rangers. They drafted them out of high school in the 2011 Draft and did not sign them. The Rangers took Fisher in the sixth round but could never come close to overcoming the money issue. With Pentecost, the Rangers had some health concerns.
Finnegan, who was taken in the 45th round but never came close to signing with the Rangers, did well for himself going to TCU. Not signing a 45th-round pick is hardly news. But the Rangers did take pitcher C.J. Edwards with the 47th pick out of high school and he developed into an outstanding prospect before being included in the Matt Garza trade with the Cubs last year.
The Rangers also took pitcher Kyle Hendricks with their eighth-round pick in 2011 and traded him to the Cubs for pitcher Ryan Dempster on July 31, 2012. Hendricks is currently 4-3 with a 3.06 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Iowa.
The Rangers two top picks in 2011 are trying to overcome serious injuries. Left-handed pitcher Kevin Matthews hasn't pitched since 2012 because of shoulder surgery but could be ready for game action in the next month. Zach Cone missed almost all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon in his left foot. He is currently hitting .213 at Class A Myrtle Beach but .260 in May after getting off to a .172 start in April.
The Rangers are still benefiting from the 2011 Draft. Nick Martinez, who started Saturday for the Rangers, was taken in the 18th round. Infielder Ryan Rua, their 17th-round pick, is hitting .290 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs at Double-A Frisco.
• Outfielder Daniel Robertson was still unavailable on Saturday while recovering from his collision with Alex Rios on Thursday. The Rangers are hoping he will be able to be an option on Sunday, but he is still dealing with swelling and discomfort on the left side of the plate.
• Former Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez was in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Saturday participating in the 2014 Hall of Fame Classic. He was the starting catcher for Phil Niekro's team batting third.
• The Rangers are 0-8 when scoring exactly two runs this season. They have lost 12 straight such games going back to last year.
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.