DETROIT -- Josh Hamilton started for the second straight game in center field on Wednesday. David Murphy was in left field again with right-hander Doug Fister on the mound for the Tigers.Endy Chavez normally plays center field with a right-hander on the mound, but Washington wanted to give him a couple of days off after playing in the heat of Texas and the hard artificial surface in Toronto over the weekend. Washington said Chavez will be in center on Thursday in the final game in Detroit. "I want to give Chavez a chance to catch up and catch his breath," Washington said. "When I put Chavez back out there, Hamilton will be in left." Chavez has just six singles in his past 33 at-bats. He is still hitting .311 on the season. Murphy entered Wednesday's bout hitting .257 but is hoping to get going on another strong second half. He was hitting .385 (15-for-39) in his previous 13 games. Murphy is a career .268 hitter with a .418 slugging percentage before the All-Star break, as opposed to .293 with a .482 slugging percentage after the break. "I feel good right now," Murphy said. "I feel like the last month or so, I've felt like myself again. I feel like I'm making more consistent and solid contact. Everybody makes a big deal how I am a better hitter in the second half than the first half -- hopefully that's true. But I can't look past today. I want to focus on quality at-bats tonight and keep it going."
Connor returns to Rangers' organization
KANSAS CITY -- Former Orioles pitching coach Mark Connor, who resigned on June 14, has agreed to return to his old position in the Rangers organization, according to several sources familiar with the situation.
Connor was hired by Baltimore manager Buck Showalter this winter, but -- citing personal reasons -- left that post and will return to his role as the Rangers' player development special consultant, which is the post he held for two seasons before joining the O's.
The Orioles pitching staff compiled a 4.22 ERA under Connor and has struggled mightily since, entering Wednesday with a 5.73 mark due to injuries and the underperformance of young arms Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Chris Tillman, among others.
The 62-year-old Connor served as Texas' bullpen coach from 2003-05 and was named the team's pitching coach the following season. He was dismissed from that post in August of 2008 and was rehired as a consultant later that year.
Beltre picks up running, not yet at full speed
DETROIT -- Adrian Beltre, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 7 with a strained left hamstring, increased his running on Wednesday during early workouts at Comerica Park. Beltre isn't at full speed yet, but he was able to go foul pole to foul pole at more than just jogging speed.Beltre said his hamstring continues to make progress, but manager Ron Washington said the Rangers won't have a real feel for his progress until he starts running the bases. That's the biggest hurdle with a hamstring injury. "You can't get a good read on hamstrings until you get on the basepaths, when you have to stop and start and react to something, get back to a base" Washington said. "He's got to make it through that process, and then we'll have a clear idea of where he is." With Beltre out and Chris Davis traded to the Orioles, Michael Young started at third base for the third consecutive game on Wednesday. He has started in the field for five straight games and will likely continue to start at third until Beltre returns.
It's Young's longest stretch in the field since he played nine straight games at first base in May. That's when the Rangers were without both Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, and Mitch Moreland was needed in the outfield.
Gentry staring at weekend rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry, on the disabled list after suffering a concussion, is not ready to be activated when he becomes eligible on Thursday. Manager Ron Washington said Gentry will likely go on a medical rehabilitation assignment in the Minor Leagues this weekend.The tentative plan is for Gentry to play three games in the Minor Leagues and possibly be activated on Monday when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Mariners. "There is quite a bit of paperwork to do and a lot of obstacles to overcome as fas as a concussion," Washington said. Gentry hit .265 (22-for-83) in 39 games before he sustained the concussion on July 24 in Arlington. He had been platooning with Endy Chavez in center field, and Washington said that will continue to be the arrangement when Gentry returns.
Rangers struggling to execute fundamentals
DETROIT -- After a 6-5 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday night, infielder Michael Young said the Rangers need to tighten up on fundamentals.Manager Ron Washington said Wednesday he was glad to hear Young say that, because it's true. The Rangers have slipped lately in the area most important to the manager. "It's the biggest part of the game," Washington said. "If you execute, you can pull yourself out of a hole. If you don't execute, you can put yourself in a hole. Our execution recently has been poor. We've got to pick it up." The Rangers' bunting has stood out. Elvis Andrus popped up a bunt with runners on first and second in the fifth inning on Tuesday and Endy Chavez wasn't able to move runners on a couple of bunt attempts last week. Washington said the Rangers addressed the situation during a hitters' meeting before Tuesday's game. "I can't give you an answer, you have to ask the guys who aren't getting it done," Washington said. "It's something we talked about, executing fundamentals when the game asks you to do something. It's on them, they are aware of it. We have been fairly good at it ... you expect Elvis to get a bunt down, he just didn't do it last night."
The Rangers' game with the Angels on Sunday, Aug. 28 has been selected to be broadcast nationally on ESPN. The game will start at 7:09 p.m. CT. Michael Young needs seven hits to reach 2,000 for his career. The Rangers went into Wednesday's game leading the American League with a .277 batting average with runners in scoring position. Young was hitting .380 in those situations, third-best in the league.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.