ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland was one of the first Rangers to hit the batting cage for early work on Friday morning. Despite not being in the Opening Day lineup, Moreland was ready to go to work."Opening Day ... it's great. ... We have a season to kick off," Moreland said. This is the second straight year Moreland has not been in the Opening Day lineup. He was on the bench last year with left-hander Jon Lester on the mound for the Red Sox and again on Friday with left-hander John Danks pitching for the White Sox. Manager Ron Washington wanted Yorvit Torrealba's right-handed bat in the lineup against Danks and explained the situation to Moreland on Thursday. Moreland said he was not disappointed. "No, not at all," Moreland said. "I'm here to help the team anyway I can. If it means sitting and getting the key hit late in the game, I'll be ready no matter what."
Kinsler starts season without contract extension
ARLINGTON -- Ian Kinsler opened the season as the Rangers' leadoff hitter on Friday. He also opened the season without the contract extension that his agent, Jay Franklin, had been discussing with the Rangers.The two sides were talking about a six-year deal worth between $80 and $100 million. Apparently they got close and were still working at it on Thursday night. But they did not get close enough to get it done by Opening Day. "Close enough to be disappointed that it's not done," Kinsler said before going 2-for-4 with a homer in Friday's 3-2 victory over the White Sox. Kinsler is still signed through this season and the Rangers hold an option on him for $10 million in 2013. After that, he is eligible to be a free agent. Kinsler said he did not want the discussions to go past Opening Day. It may be possible that Franklin continues private discussions with the Rangers during the season without involving Kinsler until a deal gets done. "If they do continue to talk, I don't want to be involved," Kinsler said. "I really don't want to. I want to concentrate on baseball. It's an added distraction I don't want to be there. I'm concentrating on baseball. I'm not worried about that. We've got a game to play, the first one of the season."
Murphy earns spot in Opening Day lineup
ARLINGTON -- Outfielder David Murphy said he would wait until Opening Day to see if he was really going to be in the lineup for the first game. He was. The lineup card posted Friday had Murphy batting ninth and playing left field."I'm excited," Murphy said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity. Hopefully, I can take it and run with it." Murphy was batting ninth, mainly because the White Sox had left-hander John Danks on the mound. "I'll take it," Murphy said. "I've said all along that I've shown I can be productive against right-handers. I still feel I can hit left-handers, but I don't care if I'm at the bottom of the lineup, I still feel I can keep the line moving. Hopefully, I can show I can be consistent against left-handers." The Rangers' other option was to use Craig Gentry, a right-handed bat, against Danks. But Washington was adamant about getting Murphy, who finished 1-for-3 in the 3-2 victory, into the Opening Day lineup. "He earned his job out of Spring Training," Washington said. "He didn't win it by default. He earned it. We all know the type of player David is. In previous years there was always somebody else who had to play out there. This spring, he earned his Opening Day start. He had a tremendous spring and I'm not talking about his offense. I was impressed with his defense, his throwing and his leadership." Murphy and Alberto Callaspo of the Angels are the only two players who played at least 120 games in each of the past three seasons without starting on Opening Day.
Rangers return eight starters
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' lineup on Opening Day included eight starters who were in the Opening Day lineup last season. The only change was David Murphy in left instead of Julio Borbon in center. Josh Hamilton started in center, otherwise the other seven were playing the same positions they were last season on Opening Day."The one thing that strikes me about that is they know what they are doing," manager Ron Washington said. "They've done it before. There's no panic. They just go out and do what they know how to do. That's comforting." The last time the Rangers had eight of nine starters in the same lineup for Opening Day was 1987-88. The only change back then was Don Slaught at catcher in 1987 and Geno Petralli in 1988. Nelson Cruz made his fourth straight Opening Day start in right field. He is the first Rangers player to start four straight seasons in right field since Ruben Sierra started six straight in 1987-92. Ian Kinsler started at second base for the sixth time on Opening Day, a new club record at that position. Bump Wills had five starts at second.
Rangers introduce AL championship rings
ARLINGTON -- Rangers players will receive their American League championship rings before Saturday's game with the White Sox, while front-office employees will receive theirs during a luncheon on Monday.The ring, produced by Jostens, was crafted in 10 karat white gold and the ring crest prominently features the familiar Rangers "T" in yellow gold set with custom-cut rubies.The ring top features the Rangers' logo centered on a baseball crafted in round brilliant-cut diamonds. The combination of diamonds, red and blue stones and "Texas Rangers" create a frame around the baseball to form the crest design. The ring bezel is encircled by "American League" and "Champions," completing the striking symbol of team achievement. The top is finished with diamonds to enhance the intricate design of the ring.
Hawpe returns to Rangers, assigned to Frisco
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have re-signed outfielder Brad Hawpe to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Double-A Frisco. Hawpe was released by the Rangers in the final week of Spring Training but was unable to find a job at the Major League level.Hawpe will play first base and designated hitter at Frisco while building up enough arm strength to play the outfield. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August and was not able to throw from the outfield during Spring Training. The Rangers signed him originally in the offseason as insurance at first base in case Mitch Moreland had trouble coming back from wrist surgery. But Moreland had no problems and the Rangers couldn't find room for Hawpe on their bench. He also had some hamstring problems during the spring. But he was 6-for-26 with two doubles and a home run at the plate and the Rangers believe he can still hit. So they are willing to give him a chance to play his way back into outfield shape at Frisco. He will report there on Saturday.
Manager Ron Washington had a new origami figurine on his desk Friday. It was one of over 1,000 made for the Rangers by students at Short Elementary School in Allen, Texas. Said Washington, "I picked out the best one, put it on my desk and put the rest out in the clubhouse." The Rangers have opened on a Friday for two straight years after five straight seasons of opening on a Monday. The only other time they have opened on a Friday was in 1976. This is the first time the Rangers have ever opened on Good Friday. This is the fifth time the Rangers have opened the season against the White Sox. They have opened seven times against the Indians, the most in club history. Rangers club president Nolan Ryan went over to the White Sox clubhouse before Friday's game to meet with manager Robin Ventura. Ryan wished Ventura good luck and they chatted for a few minutes. This was the first time they have spoken since their famous 1993 brawl at Arlington Stadium. Ventura was making his Major League debut as the White Sox manager on Friday.
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.