ST. PETERSBURG -- In his book "Sacred Hoops," longtime NBA coach Phil Jackson discusses in detail the power of visualization and using the visceral feeling to create success.
David Murphy is a big believer in the philosophy, and his resurgence at the plate validates it.
"I feel like if I have 400 at-bats in a season, there'll be five to 10 that if I go back and watch video, those will be the ones I key on to think, 'All right, if I'm going to come back and watch video at a later date, those are them just because there's something in my mind that I remember about that feeling I had," Murphy said the morning after he went 4-for-4 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs in the Rangers' 8-0 over the Rays.
Murphy said the re-emergence of "himself" came when he remembered one of those plate appearances while he was in the midst of 4-for-35 slump in August.
"I was watching an at-bat a few weeks ago that I had against Felix Hernandez last year, and just the way that I felt during that at-bat, and that's what I tried to key off of from that point on, and things have started to click," Murphy said. "Just the way I felt during that at-bat, the way I stayed through the ball.
"Last year, I felt like I did better than I did my whole career of looking out over the plate to try and drive the ball the other way, and if I got that pitch, I would. But if I got a pitch in, I would pull my hands in and pull it. And before, I felt like I had to look one or the other, I had to look away to drive the ball the other way, overtrying, physically the effort level was just too much."
The double against Hernandez in a 3-1 loss on Sept. 28, 2010, may have seemed inconsequential at the time, but for Murphy, it has paid huge dividends. The 29-year-old outfielder has finally turned the corner after hitting a grand slam off Angels starter Dan Haren shortly after Murphy viewed video of that day. He went 5-for-5 against the Angels on Aug. 26, and has hit .477 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 11 games since then.
"I felt like I was completely lost, and it's like a switch flipped and things started to go well, and I feel like I started playing the way I knew I was capable of," said Murphy, who is batting .500 (16-for-32) with two home runs and 10 RBIs filling in for an injured Nelson Cruz. "Hitting is such a feel thing, and for me, I've found that feeling again where things have started to click."
Beltre shifts back to third base for finale
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers manager Ron Washington had a change of heart, or a change of mind, Wednesday with his lineup card, inserting Adrian Beltre at third base instead of at designated hitter.
Washington had said on Monday he would play Beltre at third just once -- on Tuesday -- during the three-game series at Tropicana Field, but he decided to go with Beltre in the field so he could have Mike Napoli serve as Derek Holland's batterymate against the Rays.
"Napoli's been doing a good job with him, keeping him focused, and Derek's on a roll and I didn't want to break that up," Washington said. "He makes him use all his pitches. He reads the hitters very well. He seems to keep Holland focused, and he doesn't give Holland a chance to think. Holland gets the ball, Nap puts the sign down and he goes. He's just out there rocking and firing."
Napoli has caught Holland over the left-hander's last eight starts entering Wednesday. Holland has won five of six decisions, including his last two, in which Holland allowed one run in 13 2/3 innings.
With Napoli catching, Washington felt comfortable putting Michael Young at first, knowing how ready Beltre was to play at third.
"Beltre's been all right from the beginning," Washington said. "He didn't want to DH anyway. When I went out and told him he wasn't [going to be the DH], a smile came across his face. He told me he could play third base the rest of the way. He's not going to do so, but it just worked out that way today because I had to make an adjustment."
Rehabbing Cruz feels better after running
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz said he felt better Wednesday after putting in "about 10 minutes of running" on Tuesday on the turf at Tropicana Field.
"I feel good and I didn't have any feeling of pain or anything," said Cruz, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
Cruz knows full well how to deal with the injury, and he knows how much he can push the limits, considering the three stints spent on the DL last year with a strained hamstring, two on his left side.
"No nervousness," Cruz said when asked if he was concerned about pushing off and running.
Cruz said he ran short distances and sprinted a long distance for one run. He said he was "probably at 60 to 70 percent" in terms of the strength of his hamstring.
While Cruz anticipates being able to return once the DL assignment is over next Tuesday, Rangers manager Ron Washington is cautiously optimistic.
"He's coming along quicker than we thought he would be, but we're not going to push him," Washington said. "We didn't expect him to be where he is now. He's already taking batting practice. We're going to ramp [his rehabilitation program] up in Texas, but we don't need to push him."
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.