Rangers notes: Lance Berkman looking to break out of slump

Posted Sunday, Jun. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Lance Berkman wasted little time when addressing the most frustrating part of his slump.

“It’s just hard to win if your three-hole hitter isn’t doing anything like driving in runs,” Berkman said. “For me, that one is the hardest, but hopefully things will turn around.”

Berkman, who didn’t play Sunday, has gone 2 for 25 and is batting .161 over his last 15 games, with his average dropping from .309 to .266. But there were positive signs Saturday in the 18-inning loss that he may be headed in the right direction.

Even though he went 0 for 5, he drew three walks and felt two of his outs were on hard-hit balls. Returning to the friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark could help, too; Berkman is batting .294 at home compared with .243 on the road.

“I am starting to feel a little bit better,” said Berkman, a career .295 batter.

Berkman isn’t the only player struggling, but manager Ron Washington appreciated what Berkman said.

“When you take responsibility for something, you’ve got a chance to get better,” Washington said. “He will get it back. He hit a bad spell just like anybody else. It’s just a matter of what day and what pitcher is going to lock him back in.”

Injury updates

Injuries are piling up for the Rangers, but assistant general manager Thad Levine had positive news on a few rehabbing players.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler, on the disabled list with a right intercostal strain, has started baseball activities, hitting off a tee Saturday. The plan is for Kinsler to increase his baseball workouts over the next week, which will determine when he will be ready for a medical rehabilitation assignment.

“We’re very optimistic he’s gotten over some meaningful hurdles,” Levine said.

Levine went on to provide the following updates:

• Reliever Joakim Soria threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Saturday in Arizona, and will throw another one Tuesday. If all goes well, he’ll travel to Texas this week and progress to live batting practice.

• Neftali Feliz, rehabbing from Tommy John elbow surgery in Arizona, is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session Tuesday. He still isn’t expected to return until August. “He’s in good spirits, good shape,” Levine said.

• Colby Lewis is still shut down after experiencing soreness in his right elbow about 10 days ago.

Marathon revisited

For Joe Nathan, there’s nothing worse than extra innings on the road. It puts the closer in a difficult situation when it comes to warming up. You never know when your team might take a lead.

So Nathan found himself getting loose nine times Saturday during an 18-inning game. He got himself ready in the 10th inning when it looked as if the Rangers would take the lead with the bases loaded and no outs. But the offense failed to score.

It went like that inning after inning.

“There’s no plan in situations like that,” Nathan said. “When you see a guy in scoring position, you start loosening up.”

Nathan ended up not pitching in the game. Ron Washington would have turned to him only in a save situation, unless it were a last resort, dismissing the notion of using a closer in a game of that nature when it is tied.

The 18-inning game matched the longest in franchise history for the fifth time. It happened on the same day of a 20-inning game between the Marlins and Mets, the first time in major league history there were games or 20 innings or more and 18 or more on the same day.


• The Rangers agreed to terms with 12 of their 41 players selected in the First-Year Player Draft, including fourth-rounder Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, a shortstop, and fifth-rounder Joe Jackson, a catcher. Also signed were RHP Sam Wolff (6th round), RHP Nick Gardewine (7th), 2B Evan Van Hoosier (8th), RHP Jose Samayoa (9th), LHP Derek Thompson (12th), C Marcus Greene (16th), RHP Ryan Ledbetter (19th), RHP Travis Dean (26th), RHP John Straka (32nd) and RHP Easton Napiontek (34th).

• The Rangers begin an 11-game homestand Monday against the Indians, the team’s longest homestand since an 11-gamer in 2008. Additionally, there were approximately 5,000 reserved seats left for Tuesday’s game, which is Yu Darvish bobblehead night.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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