ARLINGTON -- After leaving Friday's game with lower back spasms, Josh Hamilton started as the Rangers' designated hitter Saturday, batting third.Hamilton felt discomfort in his lower back as he was settling under a fly ball in the fifth inning Friday. The ball fell on the left-field warning track as Hamilton made his fifth error of the year and the Rangers' second of the game. Leonys Martin pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the fifth but Hamilton was back in the starting lineup for Saturday's against the Twins. "The treatment must have worked because when I found him today, he was in the cage swinging away," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He just told me he had spasms in his lower back. They're pumping him full of fluids." "A lot of these guys have had lower back spasms before," Hamilton said Friday night. "They told me how it feels and it was exactly how I was feeling. It was actually comforting. It gave me some peace of mind." After ending a five-game losing streak with a 4-3, 10-inning victory over the Twins on Saturday, the Rangers have scored a Major League-low 13 runs this month. They lead the Majors with a .280 batting average this season but are hitting just .223 as a team this month and have hit three home runs, a solo shot by Hamilton on Wednesday against the White Sox and solo blasts by Hamilton and Adrian Beltre on Saturday. "He's my best player," Washington said of Hamilton. "We need production. We've got no production in the lineup. So when you're most productive guy says he can play, you play him."
Rangers make initial calls on Hamels, Greinke
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have scouted both Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels and Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke, two pitchers who could be available at the July 31 Trade Deadline. But club sources said the Rangers are not planning at this point to get seriously involved with either pitcher.The Rangers have had one conversation with each club but both were preliminary in nature. The Phillies and the Brewers are both calling other teams to gauge interest in case they decide to move Hamels or Greinke. Both can become free agents after the season. The Rangers are more concerned about getting their own starters off the disabled list. Derek Holland was activated on Saturday to pitch against the Twins and Colby Lewis is expected to come off the disabled list immediately after the All-Star break. Neftali Feliz, who is sidelined with a sprained right elbow, is making excellent progress, according to club officials, and could be back by the end of July. The Rangers' biggest concern right now is Roy Oswalt, who was signed as a free agent at the end of May and is 2-1 with a 7.79 ERA in three starts. Oswalt pitches on Sunday against the Twins and hasn't been particularly impressive to this point. The Rangers are concerned about what it would take to acquire either Greinke or Hamels. They aren't willing to give up their top prospects in any deal, including pitcher Martin Perez, infielder Jurickson Profar, third baseman Mike Olt or outfielder Leonys Martin. The Rangers' farm system is still deep enough to compete for any player available at the Trade Deadline. But the Rangers are concerned about the number of teams that will be interested in Greinke and Hamels, and what it would take to acquire them.
Grimm takes experience back to Minors
ARLINGTON -- With Derek Holland making his first start since being placed on the disabled list June 7, Justin Grimm was optioned to Double-A Frisco on Saturday.Grimm went 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA in three outings during his first big league stint. He will start in Frisco on Monday before moving up to Triple-A Round Rock, whose All-Star break ends Thursday. Holland, who had been experiencing a stomach virus and shoulder fatigue, was activated Saturday after going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in two Minor League starts with Round Rock. "He didn't get shaken by a whole lot," manager Ron Washington said of Grimm. "I thought that was important." The 23-year-old right-hander beat the Astros on June 16 in his Major League debut, giving up three runs on six hits in six innings. Grimm also became the first American League pitcher in 47 years to strike out seven without a walk in his first big league start. He took his first big league loss when he gave up six runs in one inning during a loss to Detroit on June 25. "I learned a lot," Grimm said. "I started out strong in the debut. Things didn't go my way in Detroit. I would've liked to get another opportunity there. I just have to keep going and keep learning and keep getting after it."
Cruz, Young switch spots in lineup
ARLINGTON -- When Ron Washington wrote a lineup for Saturday's game against the Twins, he initially left Josh Hamilton off, not knowing if he had recovered enough from back spasms that forced him to leave Friday's game.In that first lineup, Michael Young moved from fifth to third in the order and Nelson Cruz moved from sixth to fifth. But when Washington found out that Hamilton would be available, he moved Young to the sixth spot in the lineup and left Cruz to bat fifth. Upon realizing that Cruz, who normally bats sixth, and Young, who normally bats fifth, had essentially switched places in the order, Washington left his lineup alone. "I don't know. It just happened," Washington said. "When I made the lineup after I figured out Hamilton could play, Cruz came off my pen after Beltre. So I just left it like that to see if it works." Entering Saturday's tilt, the Rangers had been outscored, 34-9, during a five-game losing streak and had scored only run in each of their last two games. Young, who went 0-for-4 on Saturday, is batting .200 in his last 25 games and went 13 at-bats without a hit before a two-run double Wednesday. After going 1-for-14 over a four-game stretch, Cruz is hitting .364 in his past nine games. Cruz delivered two RBI doubles, including the game-winner in the 10th inning, on Saturday in a 3-for-5 showing. "It would provide a spark when you have people in the lineup hitting," Washington said of the lineup change. "The spark won't be provided when they're not hitting. All you're doing is taking people that aren't hitting and putting them at the top of the order and taking people that aren't hitting and putting them at the bottom of the order. So what's going to change?" One change Washington did make that he believes could provide a spark is putting right-handed hitter Craig Gentry in the lineup against right-handed Twins starter Samuel Deduno. Gentry, who went 2-for-4 on Friday, was hitting .426 in his previous 25 games and his .348 batting average was the highest in the American League among players with at least 125 at-bats. He normally only starts against left-handed starters but is hitting .333 against righties this season. "He's hot," Washington said. "We need somebody in that lineup that can get on the bag. Hopefully, he can continue to swing the bat the way he's been swinging it."
Injured pitchers Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando each threw bullpen sessions before Saturday's game and will both have another bullpen session on Monday at the Rangers' Dominican Republic academy. Feliz threw 47 pitches, Ogando threw 51, and Colby Lewis threw 37 pitches Saturday. Lewis will throw a bullpen at his home in Bakersfield, Calif., on Tuesday, while Koji Uehara's next bullpen session is scheduled for Sunday. The eight players representing the Rangers at this year's All-Star Game received Majestic All-Star BP jerseys in a pregame ceremony. Yu Darvish was presented with an award for winning the AL All-Star Final Vote and Matt Harrison was honored for capturing the Rangers' Player of the Month Award for June. Rookie Robbie Ross lowered his ERA to 0.96 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday against the Twins. If it stands, his 0.96 ERA would be the lowest going into the All-Star break by any pitcher since the first All-Star Game was played in 1933. Ross has not allowed a run in his last 22 innings. When Martin Perez turned in a quality start in Friday's loss to the Twins, it snapped an 11-game winning streak by the Rangers in games when they got a quality start.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.