5/31/2014 12:50 P.M. ET
Choice out of lineup in National League ballpark
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Shin-Soo Choo's ankle was good enough to start in left field on Saturday vs. the Nationals despite the quick turnaround from a night game. That meant Michael Choice was on the bench for the second straight game with no designated hitter being used in the National League city.
Choice has become a regular ever since Prince Fielder was lost for the season with a herniated disk in his neck. Fielder's last game was on May 16 against the Blue Jays. After that, Choice started 11 of 12 games before having to sit against the Nats.
"It helps being in there every day and get a better feel for what they are trying to do to you," Choice said. "I feel fine, but it's hard to ride a hot streak when you don't get a chance to ride it. But it is what it is."
The regular playing time has helped Choice, as he has six hits in his last 19 at-bats, raising his batting average from .190 to .210. He also has one RBI for every 6.26 at-bats. That's the highest ratio among 12 Rangers players with at least 60 at-bats this season.
"That is what I have been trying to do," Choice said. "It's hard to get a hit every time up. The main goal is when you have runners on base, just do whatever you can to get them in. If you're hitting .330 but with just two RBIs, that's not going to do your team any good either."
Catching duties split between Gimenez, Chirinos
WASHINGTON -- The Rangers have settled into a more equitable distribution of the catching duties since Chris Gimenez was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to replace J.P. Arencibia.
Gimenez was out of the lineup on Saturday, with Robinson Chirinos catching Nick Tepesch. Gimenez, who is expected to start on Sunday with Yu Darvish on the mound, had caught six of 10 games since being called up. Prior to that, Chirinos had caught nine of 13 games.
Manager Ron Washington admitted there was some concern about Chirinos handling the workload in his first full season in the Major Leagues. Chirnos played in his 33rd game on Saturday. That equals the number of Major League games he had played in his entire career.
"Catching up here is a little different than in the Minor Leagues," Washington said. "There is a lot that goes into the preparation, and that's all mental. A guy who has never had to carry that load, we wanted to take a little of the pressure off."
Gimenez has a career .216 batting average, but he is 11-for-25 (.440) since being called up. He has two or more hits in his last three games and is 11-for-22 in five starts on the road trip. Rangers pitchers have a 3.25 ERA with Gimenez behind the plate.
"He has done a good job since he has been up here," Washington said. "He calls a good game and has done a good job with the bat."
Washington said he will continue to have his two catchers share the load, at least for the time being.
"It benefits both of them," Washington said. "They won't get overextended and they will both stay fresh. To me, it helps keep them both productive."
Lewis sets tone for batting by a pitcher
WASHINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis had an RBI single on Friday night in the Rangers' 9-2 loss to the Nationals. He is 6-for-22 in his career for a .273 batting average as a pitcher.
That's the third highest batting average by an American League pitcher with a minimum of 20 at-bats since Interleague Play began in 1997. Andy Sonnanstine hit .318 (7-for-22) in 2007-11 and Eric Milton hit .300 (6-for-20) in 1998-02.
Rangers pitchers were hitless in 23 at-bats before Lewis singled on Friday. Their last hit was by Yu Darvish on June 20, 2012, against the Padres.
"I would have traded it for a win, that's for sure," Lewis said. "You know me, I like to hit, but I would have traded it for a win."
Lewis also now has five RBIs at the plate. That's tied for third among AL pitchers in the Interleague era. CC Sabathia has nine RBIs and Felix Hernandez has seven. Lewis is tied with Mike Mussina, who is retired, and Josh Beckett, who is now in the National League.
Lewis has four of the Rangers' last seven hits from a pitcher in Interleague Play, even though that was his first game in a NL city since 2011. He also has five of the Rangers' 16 RBIs from a pitcher since Interleague Play began.
Lewis' three-game hitting streak is tied for the second longest by a Rangers pitcher. Mike Paul had a four-game hitting streak in 1972, the year before the designated hitter was introduced. Sabathia had the longest hitting streak for an AL pitcher in Interleague Play with a seven-game streak in 2003-06 while with the Indians.
Rangers' hitters set to face flurry of right-handers
WASHINGTON -- The Rangers haven't faced a left-handed starting pitcher since Mark Buehrle of the Blue Jays on May 17. That streak is expected to continue into the upcoming homestand for at least another week against the Orioles and the Indians.
The O's have only one left-hander in their rotation, and the Rangers are not expected to see Wei-Yen Chen during the three-game series that starts on Tuesday. He is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Astros. Instead, the Rangers are expected to see right-handers Bud Norris, Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez.
The Indians' rotation is set up for right-handers Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson to pitch the first three games of their four-game series. At that point, if everything holds up, the Rangers would have faced 20 straight right-handed pitchers since Buehrle.
The Rangers are 8-9 this season when facing a left-handed starter.
• The Rangers released pitcher Chris Schwinden at Triple-A Round Rock.
• Round Rock pitcher Miles Mikolas stepped into the rotation and made his first start since 2009 for the Express on Friday. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks with five strikeouts against Triple-A New Orleans.
• The Rangers had three errors on Friday night after making three total in their first eight games on the road trip.
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.