ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington adjusted his lineup for the first game of the Angels series, dropping Nelson Cruz to the seventh spot in the order.Cruz normally bats fifth but has been struggling at the plate. He went into Friday hitting .208 with two home runs and six RBIs in his last 19 games. "Cruz has pride and we're trying to see if we can get him to relax a little bit," Washington said. "I'm not saying he's pressing, but because of the pride factor, sometimes he tries too hard." Washington also went with David Murphy as his designated hitter with Mike Napoli at catcher and Yorvit Torrealba on the bench. Washington had been shuttling Napoli and Torrealba between catcher and DH, but that was while they had Taylor Teagarden as the third catcher. Teagarden was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday because the Rangers needed an extra reliever in the bullpen. The Rangers could use some production from Murphy's left-handed bat because they will be facing right-handers Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver this weekend. Murphy was 5-for-14 in his career against Haren going into Friday's game. But he was also just 2-for-20 in his last seven games and has just three RBIs in his last 22 games. "The goal is to win the division, and I would like to be a part of that as much as I can," Murphy said. "Every day I'm in the lineup is pretty vital toward earning more playing time. But in the end, it's about winning the division. Whatever the lineup is or how we go about doing it, that's the No. 1 goal."
Beltre set to begin rehab assignment
ARLINGTON -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is ready to begin a medical rehabilitation assignment.Beltre, who has been on the disabled list since July 23 with a strained left hamstring, will join Triple-A Round Rock in Omaha on Monday. There is no timetable for his return, but there appears to be a good chance he'll be ready to return when the rosters expand on Sept. 1. Beltre, who is hitting .276 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs, was supposed to return earlier this month but reinjured his hamstring while running the bases on Aug. 6. That set him back another three weeks.
Blanco still having trouble with back
ARLINGTON -- Switch-hitting Rangers shortstop Andres Blanco, on the disabled list with a strained lower back, is still having trouble swinging from the left side of the plate and is not going to come off the shelf anytime soon. His problems could mean that Triple-A Round Rock infielder Esteban German could once again get consideration for a September callup.Omar Quintanilla has been serving as the utility infielder while Blanco has been sidelined but is 1-for-22 at the plate. The one reason why Quintanilla is here instead of German is he can play shortstop. German, who can play second and third, is the better offensive player. He is currently hitting .299 with a .386 on-base percentage, 92 runs scored and 44 stolen bases at Round Rock. "I just wish he could play shortstop," Washington said. Blanco is the Rangers' best defensive backup shortstop, and they may have to activate him in September for that reason alone, even if he is still having trouble swinging the bat. "I'm certainly not using Blanco for his bat," Washington said. "As long as he can play defense ... I'm good."
Angels bring on Santana, Weaver
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers received official word on Friday that the Angels will pitch Ervin Santana on Saturday and Jered Weaver on Sunday. Both will be pitching on three days' rest for the first time in their Major League careers.Angels manager Mike Scioscia moved both up so they could face the Rangers in the three-game series that started Friday at the Ballpark in Arlington. Dan Haren opened the series for the Angels on Friday night. "Bring them on," Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "They're good, no doubt about it. All three are well-rounded pitchers. They'll either step up on short rest or not. They're good, we'll just do the best we can." "I'm not surprised at anything Mike does," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He knows what's best for his team. He always has. Mike has a better feel for those guys than I do." Santana is 11-9 with a 5.55 ERA in 23 career starts against the Rangers, while Weaver is is 9-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 24 starts. "We're not afraid of Santana and Weaver," Washington said. "We're not talking about Don Drysdale and [Sandy] Koufax. We've faced Weaver and Santana before."
Martin Perez was scratched from his Round Rock start on Friday night and was replaced by Eric Hurley. Washington said no decision has been made if the Rangers will make any changes in the rotation. But he did say Scott Feldman, who threw four shutout innings on Thursday, remains a strong candidate to make a spot starter in order to give others extra rest. The Rangers only have a couple hundred reserve seats left for Saturday's game against the Angels and less than 6,000 tickets remain for Sunday night.
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.