NEW YORK -- Last season, Rangers catchers led the American League with a .299 batting average and a .500 slugging percentage from that position. They went into Thursday's game with a collective .230 batting average and a .381 slugging percentage, which both ranked ninth in the AL.Manager Ron Washington has always said his catcher's primary duty is to work with the pitchers, but he admitted that he would like more offense from the position. "Definitely -- definitely," Washington said. "It is what it is. I wish I could fantasize it was there, but it's not fantasy baseball." The reality is that Mike Napoli is on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle, so the Rangers are going with Geovany Soto as their primary catcher and Luis Martinez as the backup. The pair entered Thursday a combined 0-for-10 this week against the Yankees. Soto, who started on Thursday, went into the game 5-for-33 (.152) with a home run and four RBIs in nine games since being acquired from the Cubs on July 30. He came up with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning on Wednesday, and Yankees pitcher Freddy Garcia got Soto to ground right to shortstop Derek Jeter, who started a double play. "I knew he was working me away," Soto said. "I didn't want to chase something out of the zone, but he made good pitches. I tried to hit the ball up the middle, but I pulled it a little bit."
Seeing 'heavy' bat, Washington rests Kinsler
NEW YORK -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder Nelson Cruz were both out of the Rangers' starting lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Yankees."They both need it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They're both struggling, especially in this series. I want to give them both a day to catch their breath." Entering Thursday, Kinsler was hitless in his last 13 at-bats and 4-for-35 in his last nine games. He's hitting .227 in his last 29 games. The Rangers are 45-14 in games in which Kinsler, their leadoff hitter, has scored at least one run. They are 22-35 in all other games. "It looks like he's a little sluggish," Washington said. "I'm just trying to get him to catch his breath. He's missing pitches that he normally hits. His bat looks a little heavy. I'm going to give him a day off after a night game, and maybe that will rejuvenate him." Kinsler was ejected from Wednesday's 3-2 loss in the eighth inning after being called out on strikes by home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza. Washington said he thought Carapazza had a "short fuse." Cruz is hitless in his last eight at-bats but is still hitting .361 in his last 10 games. Of his last 22 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases. "Same with Kinsler -- I just want to get him rejuvenated," Washington said of Cruz.
Work with Pettis earns Olt a start in right field
NEW YORK -- With Nelson Cruz getting the day off, Mike Olt got his first start in right field on Thursday against the Yankees. It was Olt's sixth start since being recalled from Double-A Frisco on Aug. 2. He has started four games at first base and one at third, which was his primary position in the Minor Leagues.Olt started three games in right field while with Frisco and has been working with outfield coach Gary Pettis since joining the Rangers. The two had a morning session on Thursday to get used to the sun, which can be a problem in right field at Yankee Stadium during day games. "I'm ready," Olt said. "I felt really comfortable in Frisco. I just have to stay under control. It's a different environment, but I just have to stay under control out there." Mitch Moreland, who started at first base on Thursday, has started 32 games in right field over the past three years. But he just got off the disabled list, missing time with a strained left hamstring, and he's still dealing with a bruised big toe on his right foot. "If I can keep Moreland out of the outfield, that's what I want to do," Washington said. "Gary has been working with Olt since he came up and said he can get the job done. The kid has a little speed and can catch fly balls." Craig Gentry was also in the outfield on Thursday, with Josh Hamilton being used as the designated hitter. It was only Gentry's second start since July 30.
Wash doing all he can to keep Nathan sharp
NEW YORK -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said earlier this month that he wanted to use closer Joe Nathan only in save situations. Washington admitted that's not always practical, and he went into Thursday's game against the Yankees planning to pitch Nathan regardless.Nathan recorded saves on Aug. 7 and 8 against the Red Sox at Boston but hasn't pitched since then. "One way or another, we've got to get him in there," Washington said. "It was not my intention for him to sit for seven days. The games just haven't dictated using him." Nathan, who has 23 saves, said he really doesn't expect to be limited to save situations. "It's more of being smarter in certain situations," Nathan said. "If you do that, you're only going to appear in about 40 games. If you did that, guys wouldn't stay sharp. Obviously, it would be good to throw, but when you're playing close games on the road, it's hard to do. It's easier to do at home." Nathan isn't the only Rangers pitcher who has been sitting around; Roy Oswalt also hasn't pitched since Aug. 8.
Right-hander Yu Darvish turned 26 on Thursday. Kinsler and Michael Young have been teammates on the Rangers for 845 games, tied for the third-longest pairing in club history. Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez were together for 1,060 games and Young and Hank Blalock were paired for 878 games, while Rusty Greer and Rodriguez were teammates for 845 games. Hamilton's two home runs in Wednesday's 3-2 loss were the first of his career during the regular season in the Bronx. He did hit three here during the 2010 AL Championship Series.
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.