ARLINGTON -- Jorge Cantu was at first base on Wednesday night with left-hander Brian Duensing on the mound for the Twins. Duensing is the first of five straight left-handers the Rangers are facing to end this homestand and manager Ron Washington said Cantu will be his starting first baseman for all five games.This is why the Rangers picked up Cantu from the Marlins just before the Trade Deadline. "This will give him the opportunity to get consistent back-to-back days," Washington said. "Not to prove anything to us, but to help him out. We brought him in for this purpose, [facing left-handers], and there they are. So we're going to run him out there." Cantu is 10-for-40, but without a home run or RBI since being acquired from the Marlins on July 29. His last RBI was on July 19 against the Rockies. Since May 29, he is hitting .236 with two home runs and 18 RBIs over 62 games with a .280 on-base percentage and a .319 slugging percentage. "Obviously I have been in a different role since I've been here," Cantu said. "I'm trying to stay positive mentally. The last thing I want to lose is my timing regardless of the lineup arrangements, so I'm working hard every day. I'm happy to be here. I haven't had my best performance yet, but it will come."
Veteran Cora ready to contribute in any role
ARLINGTON -- A year ago, Rangers third baseman Michael Young was asked what active Major League player would someday make a good manager.His answer was Alex Cora. It still is. "I've played against him a long time," Young said. "When you play against guys, it's pretty obvious the things that stand out. You can tell if a guy has a ton of ability, who has great instincts and who is just smart. Alex is on the top of that list. Assuming he wants to, he's going to be a big league manager, and he's going to be one for a long time. "Smart guys are always a step ahead. The game doesn't take them by surprise. The game up here is played quickly, the speed of the game is different than in Triple-A, and guys like Alex are never in a hurry." Cora was called up by the Rangers on Tuesday from Triple-A Oklahoma City. A 13-year veteran, he was hitting .207 for the Mets when he was released earlier this month. The Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract, and he was 4-for-22 with Oklahoma City before being recalled. The Rangers need him, because Cristian Guzman and Ian Kinsler are on the disabled list. Although Andres Blanco remains the starting second baseman during their absence, Cora will provide depth. "The way things happen in New York -- I have a lot of respect for the people there -- but they had to make a decision," Cora said. "I was sitting at home in Miami already making plans for September when the Rangers called. Hopefully I can contribute in the next four or five weeks." At some point though the Rangers could have a logjam at second base when Kinsler and Guzman return in the next 7-10 days. Actually, Kinsler will be the starting second baseman, but the Rangers will have three candidates for the utility infield spot. "I just want to contribute in whatever role," Cora said. "I don't worry about that. I don't worry about other situations with other players. The Rangers seemed interested from the get-go. I'm going to be here, I know what I can do and they know what I can do."
Francisco receives shot, remains day-to-day
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers remain without right-handed setup reliever Frank Francisco, who is day-to-day with some soreness in his right ribcage area. Francisco has pitched just twice since back-to-back outings against the Yankees on Aug. 10-11. He pitched twice on the last road trip, but threw a total of seven pitches.Francisco received a cortisone shot in the area on Monday night. "It doesn't hurt, it's just tight," Francisco said. "I was throwing in the bullpen one time and it just got tight." Francisco is down, but Darren Oliver, the Rangers' left-handed setup reliever, is starting to come around. He retired all four batters he faced on Wednesday to earn his first win of the season. Oliver still has an 8.00 ERA in his past 11 outings going back to July 24. "I was in a little lull for awhile, but it happens over the course of a season," Oliver said. "I still feel good, and the ball is coming out of the hand the same. Sometimes you just don't get the results you want."
Hamilton looks to join elite company
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton has a chance to join unique company if he can finish off one of the best offensive seasons in Rangers history. Hamilton, who is leading the Majors with a .356 batting average, went into Wednesday's game with 88 runs scored, 170 hits, 29 home runs and 90 RBIs.With 37 games left, Hamilton has a chance of finishing with at least 100 runs scored, 200 hits, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. The only other Rangers player to accomplish that feat was Alex Rodriguez in 2001. It has been done three times in the last five years, all in the National League: Chase Utley in 2006, Matt Holliday in '07 and Ryan Braun in '09. The last time it happened in the American League was Vladimir Guerrero and Miguel Tejada in '04.
Washington juggles lineup with lefty matchup
ARLINGTON -- David Murphy was out of the lineup on Wednesday night, the first of five straight games the Rangers were facing a left-handed starting pitcher. Mitch Moreland started in right, Julio Borbon started in center and Josh Hamilton started in left.All four are left-handed hitters. With Nelson Cruz on the disabled list and Jorge Cantu playing first base against left-handers, manager Ron Washington said he'll rotate Moreland, Murphy and Borbon in the outfield this week. He also might use Brandon Boggs. With the run of left-handers, this would be a good time for Vladimir Guerrero to get rolling. He is hitting .348 with a .530 slugging percentage against lefties this season, but also went into Wednesday's game hitting .219 in his past 33 games. "Any five days would be good for Vlad to get rolling," Washington said. "I thought the first night against Minnesota he hit the ball well, [Tuesday] night Carl Pavano just had his number. Certainly this would be a good time for him to get on a roll at any moment he can."
Rangers reach out with fan ambassador
ARLINGTON -- Katie Crawford, who has been the Rangers' ticket sales and database manager for the past two seasons, has been appointed as the team's first full-time fan ambassador. She assumes the role immediately, said Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg."We've emphasized all along the Rangers will be reaching out to our fans," Greenberg said. "Not only are we committed to making them happy, but also seeking out their ideas. We want to have a system in place so they can have somebody they can go to. "Katie has been doing a great job at this for some time. If a fan has a suggestion or an idea, Katie will compile it. If they have a problem, she will get it fixed." Fans are encouraged to send their suggestion and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. The club is also planning to set up a fan hotline that will be operational in the near future. "We want to make sure Rangers fans have the best experience they've ever had here," Crawford said. "We want to make sure everybody is happy."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.