ARLINGTON -- Chris Davis was unable to play Friday because of the flu bug that's been going around the team and it's beginning to look obvious that Mitch Moreland is going to be the Rangers' left-handed-hitting first baseman in the playoffs.Moreland helped his cause by hitting a pair of homers in the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Angels in 11 innings on Friday.
The Rangers wanted to get a good look at Davis this week, but he is hitless in his last 11 at-bats and is now unable to play. The Rangers still hope he can get back in the lineup this weekend."I want to see him, but I can't because he's sick," manager Ron Washington said. Davis is considered the superior defensive player. But the Rangers like what they see defensively from Jorge Cantu, who will be on the roster as the right-handed-hitting first baseman. If Moreland is the starter at first, Cantu could replace him defensively in the late innings during the playoffs.
Hamilton hitless, makes running grab in return
ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton decided to start off in center field.That's likely where he'll be in the first game of the playoffs anyway. Hamilton returned to the Rangers' lineup on Friday night as their starting center fielder against the Angels. He played six innings and went 0-for-3 in Texas' 5-4 loss in 11 innings, and the plan calls for him to be used at designated hitter on Saturday and play nine innings on Sunday. "I told [manager Ron Washington] that I'd like to play six innings in center field tonight," Hamilton said. "I want to get into game mode. I don't want to DH, sit around and tighten up. I want to be out there moving around." Hamilton moved around in the top of the first. He tried to make a catch in the left-center gap on Bobby Abreu's double but fell down. Hamilton got up smiling and was ready to bat in the bottom of the first. He came up with a runner on second with one out and came up swinging. He saw two pitches and popped them up foul both times. The second was caught by third baseman Alberto Callaspo for an out. Hamilton batted again in the fourth and took three pitches before getting jammed on a 2-1 curveball from Jered Weaver. Hamilton hit a roller back to the mound and was thrown out easily by Weaver. He had to wait until the sixth for his first catch. Abreu hit a drive to deep center and Hamilton raced back to get it, making the catch just before going onto the warning track. He did not make contact with the wall. Hamilton came up again with a runner on second and one out in his final at-bat in the sixth. This time he hit a 1-1 pitch high into the gap in left-center that was easily caught by center fielder Peter Bourjos. "I felt like it went well," Hamilton said. "I felt like my at-bats were good. My first at-bat, the foulout, that kind of [stunk]. I would have like to have seen more pitches, but overall, coming back, facing a guy like that for not seeing anything for a month, I feel like I did well. I was seeing the ball well."
Hamilton was in the lineup for the first time since he cracked two ribs in his right rib cage falling into a wall in a game against the Twins on Sept. 4. Hamilton has also been dealing with some tightness in a back muscle near the rib cage but has pronounced himself ready to go."It's good," Hamilton said. "It's been awhile but ... I'm not anxious. I know how it feels. It will feel good enough. I want to work on my timing, have good at-bats and not crash into walls." There is that, but Hamilton promised to watch himself, at least for the final three games of the regular season. The Rangers have already clinched the American League West and there's nothing at stake here. The playoffs are a different story. "These three games don't mean anything," Hamilton said. "It's like Spring Training. I can stay away from a wall. But it's back on again once the playoffs start. I'm not going to change the way I play. "I just want to have good at-bats tonight. Not swing at three pitches out of the strike zone. See pitches, walk if I have to, hit the ball the other way, not try to hit a home run. There are a lot of ways to have good at-bats." Hamilton will be the Rangers' center fielder in the playoffs when they face left-handers. They are likely to go against either CC Sabathia of the Yankees or David Price of the Rays in the first round. Under those circumstances, the Rangers will likely go with Jeff Francoeur in right and Nelson Cruz in left. That would leave Hamilton in center.
Molina, Treanor to split first two ALDS games
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington has decided that Bengie Molina will catch Game 1 of the upcoming American League Division Series and Matt Treanor will catch Game 2. Molina will be behind the plate with Cliff Lee on the mound and Treanor will catch C.J. Wilson in Game 2."That's about the extent of it," Washington said. "We'll see how the next ones go after that. I'm going to try and keep them both engaged. I'm not going to stop what I have been doing all year. "In Game 3, we'll see where we go. There is a possibility that Game 3 will be Molina." Washington said he does want to have Treanor behind the plate when Wilson is on the mound. "Treanor gets down in the dirt a little better and C.J. throws a lot of dirt balls," Washington said.
Rangers mull bullpen makeup for playoffs
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers know they will have four starters and seven relievers making up their pitching staff in the playoffs. They know their four starters will be Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter. They are still mulling the composition of their bullpen and the playoff roster doesn't have to be set until the night before the first game."We're going to meet Sunday," manager Ron Washington said. "By then, we'll know what we're going to do." The Rangers have four spots secure with closer Neftali Feliz, left-handed setup reliever Darren Oliver and right-handers Darren O'Day and Alexi Ogando. They will also likely take Dustin Nippert as their long reliever. That leaves two spots. Right-hander Mark Lowe could fill one spot. Lowe pitched a scoreless inning Friday in his first appearance since undergoing back surgery in June. He'll get two more appearances in the last three games before the Rangers decide if he's ready. The Rangers like his overpowering stuff but are unsure how much the long layoff has had an impact. The Rangers want a second left-hander and will choose between Michael Kirkman, Derek Holland, Clay Rapada and Matt Harrison. Kirkman may have the best stuff of the four but was shut down for 11 days in September with a "dead arm." Rapada is extremely tough on left-handed hitters, but the Rangers aren't sure if they can take a one-batter pitcher. They are also not sure if they can keep both Rapada and Lowe on the playoff roster. One is a one-inning pitcher and the other is a one-hitter pitcher. If the Rangers take Lowe, they would most likely have to take a left-hander who can pitch more than one inning.
Murphy remains on hold with groin injury
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder David Murphy remains on hold as he tries to recover from a strained left groin muscle. Murphy did nothing for a second straight day after injuring the muscle running the bases on Wednesday. He may try to test the injury on Saturday."It's not a whole lot different than yesterday," Murphy said. "It's hard to say how I feel because I haven't tested it. Walking around the clubhouse doesn't bother me. "I might test it [on Saturday] and do some strengthening exercises. It has never been painful, it's more sore than anything."
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.