Slumping Rangers hitters glad to see April end, weather warm up

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Adrian Beltre was thrilled Tuesday with the thermometer reading. The best news for David Murphy today is that it’s no longer April.

Beltre, the Texas Rangers’ All-Star third baseman, and Murphy, their left fielder, entered the final day of April hitting .221 and .176, numbers far below their career averages for the first month of the season.

The slow start has cost Murphy time against left-handed pitchers, and did again Tuesday as the left-handed hitter sat out against Jose Quintana. Beltre, meanwhile, hasn’t missed a game.

Whether they are playing catch-up, hitting into bad luck or needing their swings to thaw out after some cold road trips, neither player is particularly concerned because they always eventually heat up.

“One thing for sure is I’m not having any concerns about it,” said Beltre, a .273 career hitter in March and April. “I’m going to be OK.”

Though Beltre said that he still doesn’t feel like his swing is where it needs to be, he also believes that he should have more hits. He’s making good contact, but he’s either hitting the ball at defenders or defenders are making good plays.

Murphy actually has fared better against lefties than righties, and is frustrated by his poor start. He also remembers 2009, when he opened the year 0 for 23.

“I’ve endured some tough stretches before, but maybe not to this extent,” said Murphy, a .228 career hitter in April. “There’s nowhere to go but up for me.”

Both will continue to get chances to play out of their slumps.

“You hope that trend changes,” manager Ron Washington said. “But you know the track record they possess, so you keep putting them out there.”

Minors concerns

Third baseman Mike Olt, the Rangers’ No. 2 prospect, has missed the past five games at Triple A Round Rock with vision problems, a possible reason for his poor start this season.

The Rangers were awaiting a diagnosis after Olt visited doctors Tuesday, and general manager Jon Daniels wasn’t prepared to link the eye issues with Olt’s .139 average in 20 games.

“I’m hoping it’s not anything major,” Daniels said. “The biggest thing is his health.”

No prospect is struggling as much as right-hander Cody Buckel, who has stumped club officials with his inability to throw a strike. Their latest remedy to help him solve his problems is to move from the rotation at Double A Frisco to the bullpen.

The Rangers considered sending him to extended spring training.

“That would be an option if he doesn’t get it going,” Daniels said. “Being able to go out there and compete and be a part of a team could be beneficial at this point.”

Wells retires

Right-hander Randy Wells, who just missed out on the Rangers’ rotation in spring training, has retired. He allowed seven runs (four earned) in only 2 2/3 innings Monday for Round Rock, and his record fell to 0-4 with a 6.08 ERA.

“He didn’t have that same level of desire,” Jon Daniels said. “A tough decision for him, I’m sure, but he didn’t feel he was doing the team a service going out there when he didn’t have that level of fire.”


• From the Rangers’ media-relations staff — and the bullpen: Rookie left-hander Joe Ortiz has requested that he be called Joseph Ortiz, effective immediately.

• Left-hander Martin Perez (broken forearm) is scheduled to throw three innings today in an extended-spring game, and righty Colby Lewis is scheduled for two innings Saturday. They could begin rehab assignments if they have no issues this week.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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