6/1/2014 1:50 P.M. ET
Rookie starter Martinez gets call to pinch-hit
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Rookie pitcher Nick Martinez knew he wasn't supposed to pitch in the three-game series with the Nationals. But he still took batting practice with the other pitchers leading up to the series in the National League city with no designated hitter being used.
So, Martinez wasn't caught completely off-guard when manager Ron Washington told him to pinch-hit for starter Nick Tepesch in the third inning on Saturday. The Rangers trailed, 5-0, at the time, but Washington did not want to start using his position players as pinch-hitters so early in the game. So he called on Martinez, who had been an infielder at Fordham, but hadn't hit since playing in the Cape Cod League in 2011.
"I had my cleats on in case I was needed to pinch-run or pinch-hit, so I wasn't completely surprised," Martinez said. "They came up to me and said, 'You're on deck,' so I grabbed a bat and got out there."
Martinez didn't have his own bat. He used one belonging to pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who is on the disabled list. Martinez ended up grounding out after four pitches.
"I didn't want to swing at the first pitch," Martinez said. "I wanted to see some pitches. It happened so quickly. I saw the pitches all right. They didn't look 100 miles per hour."
Washington: Murphy 'good enough athlete' to play first
WASHINGTON -- There is a memorable scene from the movie Moneyball, in which Athletics general manager Billy Beane is trying to convince former catcher Scott Hatteberg to move to first base, and Beane enlists infield coach Ron Washington's help to persuade him.
Beane turns to Washington for confirmation that first base is easy to play. Washington contradicts him by saying it's hard.
Now Washington, as manager of the Rangers, is contradicting himself. He started Donnie Murphy at first base on Sunday in order to give Mitch Moreland a day off. Murphy has never played first base in his career.
"I think everybody can play first base," Washington said, before being reminded of what he said in the movie.
"I think Murphy is a good enough athlete where he can play first base for one day," Washington amended.
Moreland was given the day off, because he is dealing with a sore left ankle and some back stiffness. Moreland, who had started eight games in the No. 3 hole, went into Sunday with five hits in his last 26 at-bats. The Rangers are off on Monday before opening up a nine-game homestand on Tuesday.
"This will give him two days to settle down," Washington said.
Murphy has played 109 games at third base in his career, 86 at second base and 73 at shortstop. He even played two innings in left field back in 2008. But he has never played first base and hadn't even worked out there before getting a crash course on Sunday from Washington and bench coach Tim Bogar.
"I was sitting, having breakfast and they told me I was playing first base," Murphy said."This is something new, but Wash told me just to catch the ball. The challenge is going to be the ground ball between me and second base, when to go get it. But a ground ball is a ground ball."
Robinson Chirinos has five games of Major League experience at first base, but Washington did not want both his catchers on the field at the same time. Chris Gimenez started at catcher on Sunday.
Choo gets breather, Choice scratched to end road trip
WASHINGTON -- Shin-Soo Choo, who had started every game of the road trip, was given Sunday off to rest his sore left ankle. Michael Choice was supposed to replace him in left field, but was scratched with a bruised left shin.
Choice fouled a pitch off the shin on Thursday in Minnesota. He did not start either Friday or Saturday in Washington, but he was initially in the lineup on Sunday. However, Choice was unable to get it loose and was eventully scratched from the lineup.
Daniel Robertson started in left. It's the first time he started since his collision in the outfield with Alex Rios on May 22. Robertson sustained three small fractures in his left cheek, but he is able to play by wearing a hard clear plastic mask on defense and a special batting helmet at the plate.
Choo has been bothered by the ankle since spraining it against Oakland on April 21, and he will likely be dealing with it all year. The outfielder had four hits in his last 26 at-bats, and manager Ron Washington suggested that Choo's ankle could be impacting his power at the plate.
"It probably has," Washington said. "You need your lower half to hit. That's his push-off leg, so that could be why he is not turning on balls. This is a good time to get him two days off."
That left Adrian Beltre as the last man standing on the road trip. Despite being the oldest position player on the team, Beltre started all 11 games of the road trip at third base.
"If I replaced Beltre, you'd probably see somebody like [Luis] Sardinas playing third base," Washington said.
While playing every day, Beltre went into Sunday hitting .337 in his last 26 games with five home runs, 15 RBIs and a .529 slugging percentage.
Rangers have yet to decide on Scheppers' return
WASHINGTON -- Pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow, went 1 2/3 innings in his latest outing on medical rehab assignment outing, throwing 28 pitches against Omaha on Saturday.
Scheppers allowed one run on two hits, including a home run, did not walk a batter and struck out two. He has now made four appearances on his rehab assignment with a 9.82 ERA and a .338 opponents' batting average.
The next step is to decide if he'll be activated on Tuesday, or if the Rangers want him to continue to get work on rehab.
"We haven't had any conversations on what our plans are," manager Ron Washington said. "We'll have something decided by Tuesday."
If Scheppers is activated, the Rangers would have a tough decision as to who he would replace in the bullpen. It certainly won't be one of their veteran relievers: Joakim Soria, Neal Cotts, Alexi Ogando or Jason Frasor.
Shawn Tolleson has options, but he has pitched as well as anybody on the staff. He has not allowed a run in his last eight outings, as opponents have just three hits in their last 33 at-bats against him.
That leaves Scott Baker, who has been crucial as a spot starter and long reliever, and Robbie Ross. Ross and Cotts are the only left-handers in the bullpen. Ross can also give the Rangers multiple innings.
• Baker threw five innings in relief on Saturday. It's the second time this season he has pitched five-plus innings out of the bullpen. The last Rangers pitcher to have multiple five-plus innings in relief in one season was Matt Whiteside in 1997.
• The Rangers lost, 10-2, on Saturday. They have three 1-0 wins this year, but are 0-9 when scoring exactly two runs.
• Rougned Odor got the day off on Sunday, with Sardinas starting at second base. Odor is hitting .379 in his last nine games.
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.