5/26/2014 1:34 P.M. ET
Baker returns to Minnesota, but as a reliever
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Two hours before Monday's game at Target Field, Rangers pitcher Scott Baker was on the field catching up with a few members of the Twins. Baker was getting re-acquainted with a lot of people on Monday in his first visit to Target Field since pitching for the Twins in 2005-11.
"Any place where you come up with a bunch of great guys, it means a lot and holds a special place in your heart," Baker said. "A lot of great memories … we had a great group of guys around for awhile."
Baker was a starter for the Twins and also started for the Rangers on Friday night against the Twins. Pitching for the first time in over two weeks, Baker allowed six runs in six innings in a 7-2 loss to the Tigers. He has since been moved back to the bullpen so that Joe Saunders can return to the rotation and pitch against the Twins on Wednesday.
"I'm doing what I'm told," Baker said. "Everybody knows it's a tough spot. I hadn't pitched in 16 to 17 days, but that's not an excuse to not give everything you've got. That's what I did. I wasn't as sharp as I normally am. Throwing on a consistent basis benefits me as much as everybody else."
Wash stays patient, keeps Choice in lineup
MINNEAPOLIS -- Rangers rookie outfielder Michael Choice was 1-for-5 on Sunday and he went into the four-game series against the Twins hitting .196 with a .299 slugging percentage. But the only hit was a home run off of Tigers starter Justin Verlander that put the Rangers ahead for good in a 12-4 victory.
So manager Ron Washington stays patient with Choice and he was back in the lineup on Monday playing left field. Shin-Soo Choo remained at designated hitter for a second straight game while dealing with a sore left ankle.
"Choice is going to have issues but he's also going to show flashes of what he can do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Once the kid gains some confidence and works through some things, that's what it is about. He's a young guy and we have confidence in him, so I'll keep putting him out there. Right now he's getting some time.
"I'm going to keep putting him out there. He's going to have issues just like [Rougned] Odor is going to have issues. Most young guys are going to have issues. As much as you want them to be there, they're not. You've got to be patient. They show flashes and you hope the flashes become more consistent. When they do, we'll have the guys we want them to be."
Choice started the season playing mainly against left-handers. But with Prince Fielder out for the season and Mitch Moreland playing every day at first base, the Rangers need Choice in the lineup against all pitchers, either in left field or designated hitter. The other option is using Donnie Murphy at designated hitter against right-handed pitchers and he was 2-for-3 with a big home run on Saturday with Rick Porcello on the mound for the Tigers.
"I feel fine … I feel good," Choice said. "I'm just kind of feeling through some pitchers I have never seen before but as far as physically, I feel good at the plate."
Choice is one of 11 rookies used by the Rangers this year, the most by any team in the Major Leagues.
Scheppers could be ready next homestand
MINNEAPOLIS -- Pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, could be ready to be activated on the next homestand that starts June 3 against the Orioles.
Scheppers, who was placed on the disabled list on April 18, threw one inning and 21 pitches for Double-A Frisco on Saturday and is scheduled to make three appearances for Triple-A Round Rock this week on medical rehab assignment. Scheppers is down for one inning each on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
If those go well, Scheppers could be ready to be activated on the homestand.
"Everything depends on how each one of those goes and how he recovers," manager Ron Washington said.
Scheppers opened the season as a starter but will return as a reliever. He will not return immediately to the eighth-inning role he handled so well last year.
"I'm going to work him back and use him when it is needed," Washington said. "He'll work his way back eventually."
Washington ties Valentine for Rangers games managed
MINNEAPOPLIS -- Ron Washington managed his 1,186th game for the Rangers on Monday, tying him with Bobby Valentine for the most in club history. Washington, who began as Rangers manager in 2007, will move ahead on Tuesday.
"I think I'll make it," Washington said. "I didn't know, I didn't have it on my mind. It's no big deal. I'm just trying to win a ballgame against the Twins today. It just means I have good players who have given me the opportunity to be a manager for a long time. Your players make you who you are."
Washington, with four straight 90-win seasons, already holds the record for most wins by a Rangers manager. The Rangers are 636-549 under him going into Monday's game for a winning percentage of .549, the highest of any manager with at least two full seasons in club history.
It's not a competitive field. Johnny Oates is the only other Rangers manager who was in the job for at least two full seasons and had a winning record. Oates had a 506-476 record for a .515 winning percentage from 1995-2001. Valentine had a .490 winning percentage from 1985-92.
• The Rangers wore specially designed caps and jerseys with a military digital camouflage design licensed from the United States Marine Corps in honor of Memorial Day. MLB.com will donate all proceeds from sales of the caps and jerseys to Welcome Back Veterans, which provides grants to hospitals that provide medical treatment to veterans.
• The Rangers had 57 hits in their four-game series with the Tigers. That was the third most in a four-game series in club history. They had 59 in a four-game series against the Twins in 2011 and 58 against the Athletics in 1983.
• Outfielder Daniel Robertson remains sidelined with three small fractures in his left cheek. He is scheduled to receive a special batting helmet on Tuesday as well as being fitted for a protective mask. Robertson is hoping to be available on Wednesday.
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.