Washington gives Moreland a shot against lefty
First baseman responds with three-run blast in second inning
ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland was in the Rangers' lineup on Saturday with left-hander Brian Duensing on the mound for the Twins. It's a rare start against a left-hander for Moreland, who swings from the left side.Moreland -- who crushed a 463-foot three-run homer off Duensing in the second inning Saturday -- entered the game just 7-for-32 (.219) against left-handers. But he is hitting .342 (25-for-73) in 24 games since coming off the disabled list so manager Ron Washington went with him over Mike Olt, a right-handed hitter. Olt has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right heel, but was available off the bench. "I want to let Moreland take his shot off a left-hander," Washington said. "It's nothing more than that. He's swinging the bat well." Washington gave the same opportunity to David Murphy and it has worked well. Murphy is 20-for-50 (.400) off left-handers and has worked his way into a full-time role. Washington is not ready to commit to giving Moreland the same opportunity, but he was in the lineup on Saturday. "I'm not nailing it down, I just put it in the coffin and left the lid off," Washington said. "If he and Murphy go out and hit everybody and hit the way they're hitting right now, it will make me a genius. But I just wanted to throw Moreland a bone and give him a shot against a lefty." There's another possible factor. With some of the club's best hitters eligible for free agency in the next two offseasons, there will come a point when Moreland will need to take on a more prominent role in the lineup. Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli are eligible for free agency after this season, while Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Murphy are eligible after 2013. "If the landscape changes and [Moreland] is still here, of course he has to step up," Washington said. "I don't think it's a big deal." In his career, Moreland is hitting .227 with a .291 on-base percentage and a .313 slugging percentage against left-handers. He is hitting .278 with a .345 on-base percentage and a .486 slugging percentage against right-handers. "I just go out and play hard every day, it doesn't matter if it's a left-hander or right-hander," Moreland said. "I do what I can to help the team win."
Harrison praises work of batterymate Martinez
ARLINGTON -- Luis Martinez was behind the plate for Matt Harrison on Friday night. It was the second time they have worked together since Martinez was called up from Triple-A, and the combination worked well. Harrison had a no-hitter for 6 2/3 innings before giving up two singles in the Rangers' 8-0 victory over the Twins.Martinez has never caught a no-hitter in professional career, falling one out short in a seven-inning Minor League game while with the Mets. Friday was different. "It was awesome ... seven outs away from a no-hitter," Martinez said. "I had a great time working with Harrison. It's always great working with him. I was so excited, I didn't know what to do. I was pacing back and forth in the dugout. Everybody knew what was going on." Martinez was also behind the plate for Harrison when he held the Yankees to one run in 6 1/3 innings in a 3-0 loss on Aug. 14 in New York. "He was good," Harrison said. "He helped me get through seven in New York and we had some good games together in Spring Training. He calls a great game. We talked in between innings about how we wanted to pitch to guys, so we were in sync. He receives the ball well. He's a good defensive catcher. He does a great job." Martinez was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 11 when Mike Napoli went on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle. Friday was his third start, but Geovany Soto was back behind the plate on Saturday.
Uehara expected back in bullpen Sunday
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Koji Uehara is expected back off the disabled list on Sunday. He pitched a scoreless inning on Saturday for Triple-A Round Rock, allowing one hit and one strikeout while throwing 14 pitches. Uehara had a 2.11 ERA in 20 games before going on the disabled list on June 10 with a strained muscle in his right side.To make room for Uehara, the Rangers will likely have to send down either left-hander Michael Kirkman or right-hander Tanner Scheppers. Both have options, but both have been pitching well. Kirkman has pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his last seven appearances, allowing three hits and four walks while striking out seven. Scheppers, who was called up on June 7, has a 1.46 ERA since the All-Star break. "That's the way it goes," manager Ron Washington said. "Koji is a winning piece. He was one of our winning pieces before he went down. He's ready to go, so we're going to reinstate him. So far everything has gone well for him and we sent him through a lot to get him back here." Rangers relievers went into Saturday's game having not allowed an earned run in their last combined 20 innings. They also have a 0.88 ERA in their last 14 games and a 2.64 ERA in August.
Rangers await Young; roster decision to follow
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are expecting Michael Young back from paternity leave either Sunday or Monday. At that point, the club expects to send infielder Luis Hernandez back to Triple-A Round Rock and stay with an eight-man bullpen as well as a three-player bench.Manager Ron Washington prefers a seven-man bullpen and a four-player bench. But the Rangers are expecting to stay with the current configuration possibly until the rosters expand on Sept. 1. "It's not going to change right now," Washington said. "It could change tomorrow, I just don't know yet. We're going to go with the way it is right now. It has not been a detriment. That extra pitcher has given us a chance to give the pitchers we have been riding for 3 1/2 months some extra rest. Now those guys are getting caught up." Texas went into Saturday's game against Minnesota with Hernandez, infielder Mike Olt and catcher Luis Martinez as its three reserves. Hernandez was added on Friday when Young was placed on paternity leave for a maximum of three days. If Young is not back on Sunday, he will be activated on Monday. Hernandez received one big benefit from being called up. The Rangers had to add him to the 40-man roster. By doing so, it increased his chances of a September callup. Alberto Gonzalez, who had been the club's utility infielder for most of the season, was taken off the 40-man when he was assigned outright to Round Rock on Aug. 12. The Rangers are also still giving serious consideration to calling up infielder Jurickson Profar in September. He is not yet on the 40-man roster, but the club will find room if needed.
Yu Darvish, who was scratched from Thursday's start because of a strained right quad muscle, threw approximately 30 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday and then went through pitching drills without any problem. He is on course to pitch on Tuesday against the Rays. Catcher Mike Napoli had no problems on Saturday, one day after catching Derek Holland's bullpen session. Napoli is on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle, and if he clears some running and agility tests in the next few days, he could be sent out on a medical rehabilitation assignment early next week. Adrian Beltre is the 23rd player since 1900 to hit for the cycle twice in his career. He did so on Sept. 1, 2008, while with the Mariners against the Rangers and again on Friday night for Texas against the Twins. D-backs infielder Aaron Hill did it twice in a 12-day span earlier this year. Beltre hit three home runs on Wednesday. He is the second player in Major League history to hit for the cycle and hit three home runs in a game during the same week. Joe DiMaggio also did so in 1948. Beltre is the fourth player in the past 25 years to do both in the same season, joining Dave Winfield (1991), Miguel Tejada (2001) and Jose Reyes (2006).
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.