Rangers mull roster, lineup options for Series
Vlad to get one start in right in SF; rotation order unsettled
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington watched Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night.He saw the Giants prevail with a 3-2 victory. Having finally seen who the Rangers will play in the World Series, Washington switched off the television and went right to sleep. Preparations for their next opponent are only now beginning. "They are a very solid team," Washington said Sunday before the Rangers' workout at the Ballpark in Arlington. "They can certainly pitch, and when you get to this point, pitching is the most important thing. They showed they can stay in ballgames and get timely hits. That's what they do.
"They are a very good club and well-managed by Bruce Bochy. The two best teams are playing. That's the way it should be."The Rangers have decisions to make before Cliff Lee takes the mound for Game 1 on Wednesday at AT&T Park. Right now they are still discussing several issues: Vladimir Guerrero. Washington said his designated hitter will start in right field in one of the first two games in San Francisco. The designated hitter will not be used in the National League park, so Guerrero will start in one game and David Murphy will start in the other alongside Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Washington said he hasn't decided which game Guerrero will start. "You can bet we'll find a way to get Vlad in there," Washington said. The exact order of the rotation. Lee will start Game 1. He will be followed by C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis but not necessarily in that order. Washington said the Rangers haven't decided who will pitch Game 2 in San Francisco and who will pitch Game 3 in Arlington on Saturday. Lewis may start Game 2 because the Giants' lineup is loaded with right-handed hitters. Game 4 starter. The Rangers haven't announced it yet, but it will most likely be right-hander Tommy Hunter. There has been some talk of left-hander Derek Holland, but that's not likely because of the Giants' right-handed-dominated lineup. At least six of their eight starters are right-handed hitters. The only two left-handed hitters are Aubrey Huff and switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval. But Sandoval didn't start Game 6 of the NLCS against Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt either. The World Series roster. The Rangers will likely keep backup first baseman Jorge Cantu on the roster. With all the potential double-switches that could take place under NL rules, the Rangers will likely keep their right-handed-hitting first baseman on the roster. Bullpen. The Rangers had four left-handers in the bullpen for their series against the Yankees: Darren Oliver, Clay Rapada, Michael Kirkman and Holland. They may drop one for the World Series and add a right-hander because of the composition of the Giants' lineup. With Frank Francisco out, Mark Lowe is a possibility. So are Scott Feldman and Dustin Nippert. "We really haven't had a chance to sit down and talk about that," Washington said. The Rangers worked out on Sunday afternoon with a number of pitchers getting some work in a simulated game. They will fly to San Francisco on Monday, but will not work out again until Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, they will play in the first World Series in franchise history. The Giants are going to the World Series for the 18th time but only the fourth time since moving to San Francisco in 1958. They lost to the Yankees in seven games in 1962, the Athletics in four games in 1989 and the Angels in seven games in 2002. The Giants haven't won a World Series since 1954, when Willie Mays made possibly the most famous catch in baseball history against the Indians. But all of that hardly matters now. This is 2010: Rangers vs. Giants. "They're a good team," third baseman Michael Young said. "They earned their way in by playing well against a good Phillies team. We're looking forward to a good matchup." The Giants are here mainly because of their pitching. They led the National League with a 3.36 team ERA during the regular season and have posted a 2.47 ERA in the playoffs against the Braves and the Phillies. "Their pitching is good," Cruz said. "All those National League teams have good defense and good pitching." The Rangers' pitching has been exceptional as well in the playoffs. They have a 2.76 ERA in 11 games. Lee is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA but Lewis is 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA. Wilson is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA but has pitched extremely well in two of three starts. The Giants haven't announced their rotation, but Tim Lincecum is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance while Matt Cain is 1-0 in two starts while allowing just one unearned run in 13 2/3 innings. Closer Brian Wilson has allowed just one unearned run in nine postseason innings. "Their pitching is something we're going to have to go over in the next few days," Young said. "Obviously being a National League team, we don't know much about them. We didn't play them in Interleague and there is only so much you can tell from the Cactus League. We'll really have to go over them in the next few days." There is already word that the Rangers are being considered a slight favorite for this World Series, which would be a first for them this postseason. They were considered underdogs against the Rays in the Division Series and the Yankees in the ALCS. "We're the favorites?" Washington said. "Well, the game is played between the lines. The team that plays the best that night will win. We may be favorites but if we don't win, it won't matter." It also doesn't matter to the Rangers that they have gone farther than any other group in franchise history. They go into this World Series believing they still have unfinished business ahead. "I can tell you right now we're just not happy to be here," Washington said. "Our goal is to win the World Series. I don't have to express that to my team. My leaders are already doing that. The goal is definitely to win."
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.