Rangers notes: Hitting coach wants better at-bats from struggling hitters

Posted Saturday, Jun. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Injuries to key contributors have kept the Texas Rangers’ offense from being as dynamic as it can be, and so have some of the pitchers they have been facing this month.

Iffy base running hasn’t helped much, either.

But the No.1 problem facing the lineup during their prolonged funk is a lack of quality at-bats, hitting coach Dave Magadan said on Saturday.

The batters aren’t making pitchers work enough, nor are they grinding out at-bats long enough for them to get a good pitch to hit. Many times they have either missed their pitch or taken it early in an at-bat.

Add it all together, and the Rangers are in the midst of one of their worst hitting funks ever at Rangers Ballpark.

“When you’ve hit a stretch like we’ve hit, there are a lot of things that contribute,” Magadan said. “It’s just a matter of stringing good at-bats together, and we really haven’t done that over the last week, week and a half.”

The Rangers lost to Toronto 6-1 on Saturday, the fifth straight home game in which they have scored two or fewer runs, tying the club record set in 2009. They have gone 14 games with 10 or fewer hits, the longest stretch since going 15 straight in 1988.

A hitters’ meeting was held Wednesday to take away any pressure they might be feeling and also to stress the importance of having better at-bats. It worked that night against Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who had a heavy workload, but not in the first three games against the Blue Jays.

“Hopefully it’s going to be a delayed effect,” Magadan said.

Magadan said the onus is on him to keep the hitters working and focused until they break loose. The sooner the better.

“It’s definitely a bump in the road,” he said. “I think every team goes through it. The key is to keep it to a minimum.”

Ejection reaction

Elvis Andrus had been ejected once in his career before Friday, but Andrus was the fall guy for Michael Young’s chirping the first time around.

He earned the heave Friday from plate ump Eric Cooper, who had heard enough protesting and cursing from Andrus after taking a called third strike.

“I learned my lesson,” he said.

But the vociferous objection was the result of the Rangers’ woes this month, Andrus said.

“I was disappointed with the call,” he said. “It was more about the way we’re playing right now. In that moment, I just went off a little bit.”

Baker better, but …

Utility man Jeff Baker noted improvement in his right thumb, which was strained Thursday by a pregame high-five gone wrong, but he still wasn’t able to grip a bat.

But Baker was encouraged.

“Any improvement is encouraging,” he said. “It’s just the whole situation I’m frustrated with.”

Holland the stopper?

Derek Holland knows that a start like his last one Tuesday, when he allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings, won’t do the Rangers any good Sunday when he starts the series finale against Toronto.

But he isn’t entering the start thinking he must pitch well to help the Rangers break out of their losing streak.

“I never sit and dwell on how I’ve done against a certain team or if I’m the losing-streak stopper,” Holland said. “I’ve just got to go back out there and get in the swing of things again.”

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

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