Rangers' pinch-hitting prowess on the rise
Washington cites deeper bench, more chances as reasons behind success
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' pinch-hitting is on the upswing from where it has been during the first six years Ron Washington has been the manager.
After going 1-for-3 on Saturday night, Rangers pinch-hitters were batting .286 on the season, the second-highest in the American League. Their .368 on-base percentage was the highest. That's a significant improvement from 2012 when Rangers pinch-hitters had a .173 batting average, the second lowest in the league, and a .277 on-base percentage.
"Better bench, more experience and they're getting opportunities," Washington said. "In the past we didn't have too many guys to pinch-hit for in our lineup. They were the best we had. We haven't had this bench since we've been here. Nobody is complaining about playing time, so it helps to move people around and give everybody a chance."
The Rangers have improved considerably since 2009 when their pinch-hitters had a .119 batting average, the sixth-lowest in the AL for one team since 1974. Texas pinch-hitters had a combined batting average of .182 from 2009-12, the lowest in the AL in that stretch.
Craig Gentry has given the Rangers the biggest boost off the bench. He is 5-for-14 with five walks as a pinch-hitter, a .357 batting average that is the third-highest in the league among those with at least 10 at-bats in the role. His .526 on-base percentage is second.
"He's done a great job of pinch-hitting," Washington said. "He has an idea of when he's coming into a ballgame so he's mentally ready."
If called upon, Wolf ready for Tuesday spot start
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers haven't announced who their Tuesday starter will be, but Ross Wolf said he is ready if needed.
Wolf pitched a scoreless inning on Saturday night in a 15-3 victory over the Mariners. It was his first appearance in 10 days as the Rangers haven't had much need for a long reliever in August.
"You don't want to see me in the fourth inning," Wolf said. "That's not a good thing. It's a credit to our starters going deep in the game."
The Rangers have scratched Alexi Ogando from his next start after he received an anti-inflammation in his right shoulder. The club hasn't decided if it will put him on the disabled list.
If Ogando goes on the DL, the Rangers will likely call up left-hander Travis Blackley from Triple-A Round Rock. He has pitched five innings over two appearances since being acquired from the Astros. If the Rangers resist putting Ogando on the DL, they will bring Wolf out of the bullpen for his fourth start of the season.
Wolf, despite having pitched just twice in August, said he could throw 70 pitches if needed Tuesday. That could get him at least through five innings. Wolf averages 14.1 pitches per inning, the third lowest ratio for a Rangers pitcher with at least 40 innings in a season over the past 25 years.
Martin gets day off; Gentry leads off, plays center
ARLINGTON -- Leonys Martin was out of the lineup Sunday even though the Mariners had a right-handed pitcher on the mound. Martin had played in 26 of 28 games since the All-Star break, so Rangers manager Ron Washington had Craig Gentry playing center field and batting leadoff.
"He just needed a day," Washington said. "He played the whole [10-game] road trip and he's played here. He just needs a day."
This is Martin's third season in professional baseball and he has already played more games than in his two previous seasons. Martin has played in 109 games this season after injuries limited him to 79 games last year at both the Major and Minor League level, and 81 in 2011.
"I have been working hard," Martin said. "My body feels perfect."
Martin was 1-for-11 with three strikeouts in his three previous games. Prior to that, he hit .299 with 10 runs scored and eight stolen bases in a 19-game stretch. Gentry was in the leadoff spot for the Rangers on Sunday for the first time this season.
Feliz back on track as he resumes rehab stint
ARLINGTON -- Neftali Feliz was efficient with his pitches when he returned to the mound for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night. Feliz needed just nine pitches to get through his one inning. He allowed one infield hit and struck out one.
Feliz, who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Aug. 1, 2012, has made four appearances on his medical rehabilitation assignment. But this was his first outing in nine days while dealing with a mild case of tendinitis in his triceps.
There are two weeks to go before Sept. 1, when the rosters can be expanded to up to 40 players. Feliz could get four or five more outings in relief before that date, but the Rangers haven't announced when his next outing will be. It will probably be Monday.
• The Rangers still haven't made a decision on when they will bring designated hitter Lance Berkman off the disabled list. But there is still a possibility they could wait until the rosters expand on Sept. 1.
• The Rangers' victory on Saturday night was their 38th when they've had to come from behind. They are tied with the Braves for the most in the Major Leagues.
• Texas had nine players record an RBI in Saturday's game, the 12th time that has happened in club history. The club also had a season-high nine hits with runners in scoring position.
• Left-handed pitcher Victor Payano has been placed on the disabled list at Class A Myrtle Beach. Right-handed pitcher Tyler Smith was promoted from Class A Hickory to Myrtle Beach. Triple-A Round Rock pitcher Scott Richmond has been activated off the temporarily inactive list and Nate Robertson was placed on it.
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.