ARLINGTON -- Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz has been heating up on this homestand, hitting 9-for-21 in the last five games."More than anything else, I like him keeping the ball in the big part of the field," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I've seen him shorten his stroke a little bit. The good thing about it is, in some situations recently, all we needed was a base hit, and he's gotten them." Cruz has tremendous power, and what is encouraging to Washington is that Cruz has been hitting singles, but without losing that power. During the five games, he has two home runs and three extra-base hits. "I just hope that his mindset stays there, because without trying, Nelson is going to walk into home runs," Washington said. "Sometimes he gets out there and, maybe not consciously, but his swing gets real big. Lately, its been shortened a little bit." With his recent hitting, he has now brought his batting average back closer to where it has historically sat for his career. He comes into Wednesday's game batting .252 on the season, comparable to the .270 mark he holds for his career.
Rangers ink Dominican prospect Mazara
ARLINGTON -- Dominican 16-year-old Nomar Mazara took batting practice before the Rangers faced the Orioles on Wednesday. He officially signed after passing a physical.While the Rangers did not discuss terms of the contract, sources say Mazara agreed to sign on July 2 for over $5 million. One of the main reasons he signed with the Rangers has been Texas' aggressiveness in sending Dominican players to the Majors. "I see that they develop all the young players," Mazara said through a translator. "They make them into Major League players, and they come soon. They come quick, and [the Rangers] stay with their own players." This is a trend that has become quite prevalent after the Rangers' success with Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz, along with others, such as Jurickson Profar in the farm system. "Starting two years ago, one of the things we set out to do was become a force on the international scene," Rangers senior director of player development A.J. Preller said. "I see it when I'm out there, I see it when I'm talking to parents and families and people. "They know that the farm system has been considered one of the better ones in the game, and you see kids want to be a part of it." It reaped big benefits as Mazara and Ronald Guzman were arguably the most sought-after international prospects this year, and both of them signed with the Rangers. General manager Jon Daniels said that Mazara would be heading back to the Dominican Republic to compete in a Rangers program that has already been set up in that country. Mazara put on a show for Rangers brass during his session, routinely getting the ball to the Rangers Ballpark warning track, despite being just 16 years old. "You could see him growing," Rangers manager Ron Washington, who was in attendance, said. "He might end up being a left-handed Juan Gonzalez. That wouldn't be bad. You can see that he's going to pick it up in the [triceps], the [biceps], the legs. He's going to pick it up and grow into a man. Just got to make sure he doesn't grow into a fat man."
Washington stands by Holland
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said on Wednesday there are no internal discussion about moving Derek Holland out of the starting rotation.Washington said that no matter what Thursday's start against the Athletics holds, Holland will stay in the rotation. "No, not that we've discussed," Washington said. "That's not a conversation we've had." Holland, who struggled in his last start, has been inconsistent all season. He pitched a shutout on June 4 against Cleveland, but has not turned in a quality start since then. Holland is known for having some of the best pitches of any Rangers starter, but he struggles with location. "When he's good, he's good," Washington said. "I don't know when exactly he'll start being consistent. But when he's good, he's good. We're not going to give up on him." Holland has been a Major Leaguer for parts of the last three seasons, since he was a ripe 22-year-old. While he is a familiar face to Rangers fans, it is possible that he is not done learning how to harness his electric stuff. "You've got to understand that in this game there are what you call late bloomers," Washington said. "He has a ton of talent, and you don't give up on talent. He's only 25. He's still got a lot of time to get it together. He came up here at a very young age, maybe when he shouldn't have been here, and he's still learning." Washington says that Holland clearly has the pitching repertoire to play in the Major Leagues, but at this point lacks the confidence. "What I'm doing as the manager is trying to show confidence," Washington said. "Hopefully, he gains confidence by me showing confidence in him. When that no longer happens, then an authority way above me makes that decision."
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.