Leonys Martin hopes to return to Rangers’ lineup Monday

Posted Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Center fielder Leonys Martin’s feelings might have been hurting more than his right ankle Sunday morning after his Texas Rangers teammates ribbed him early and often for his reaction after colliding with David Murphy on Saturday night.

Martin left the game with a slightly sprained right ankle as his foot rolled after colliding with Murphy on a pop-up to start the ninth inning.

Martin writhed in pain and initially needed assistance walking off the field before getting to the dugout under his own power without so much as a limp.

About 12 hours later, Martin was in the clubhouse declaring that he hopes to be ready to start Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Seattle. He also wasn’t casting any blame Murphy’s way.

“It’s something that happens all the time in baseball. We just couldn’t hear each other,” Martin said. “It doesn’t really bother me when I walk, but when I try to hit and twist, I feel something. When I collided, it hurt so badly that I thought I broke something.”

The collision was viewed by Rangers players as part of the game, though Murphy became the subject of misguided vitriol by fans on Twitter.

Murphy was in left field, center fielder Martin was shaded toward right field, and both were playing deep to prevent a double when Paul Konerko lifted a towering pop-up toward shallow left-center.

As both players charged, Murphy was calling for the ball and raised his right hand to indicate that he was ready to catch the ball. Martin was also calling for it, and they collided as the ball fell into Murphy’s glove.

Murphy said on Saturday night that he couldn’t hear Martin but continued his pursuit of the ball so that it wouldn’t fall in.

Manager Ron Washington said that both players should have glanced toward the other, but it was easier for Martin to do because he was coming from right-center and would have had Murphy plainly in his line of sight.

Washington also said that the ball was in Murphy’s area and it appeared that Murphy was all but camped under the pop-up.

“You could say that Martin is the guy who if he calls it, you get out of the way,” Washington said. “But if I’m camped, you get out of the way. It’s something that happens. I’m not blaming Marty, and I’m not blaming Murph.”

Breaking bad

Tanner Scheppers has a 9.82 ERA in his past four appearances and a 4.58 ERA in his past 21, calling into question if he should keep the late-inning role he has had since early in the season.

He took the loss Saturday by allowing three singles in the ninth inning.

Ron Washington, though, said that Scheppers will continue working late and will get better results if he can start throwing his breaking ball for a strike again. Scheppers needs that pitch because his fastball, while 95 to 97 mph, doesn’t move much and has been too hittable of late.

“He’s never been a strikeout guy, so there’s going to be contact,” Washington said. “He’s got to execute pitches a little better. The breaking stuff, he hasn’t been able to get it where he wants it with any consistency. If he can get his breaking ball over, I don’t think they can get on that 95, 96 or 97 with any consistency.”

Blackley the answer?

The Rangers are 41-16 against American League West foes, and almost half of those losses have come against their next opponent, Seattle.

The Rangers have lost five of the last seven but hold a slim 9-7 head-to-head advantage. Three of those losses have been in games started by Hisashi Iwakuma, who will start Tuesday, and the Rangers are searching for a way to cool off Kyle Seager.

The third baseman is batting .409 (27 for 66) with 11 doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs in 16 games against the Rangers. He delivered the go-ahead hit in two of the Mariners’ wins on the last Rangers homestand.

Travis Blackley could be the solution. The left-handed-hitting Seager is 0 for 5 against the left-hander who is scheduled to make his second start with the Rangers on Monday. His goal is 80 pitches and to contain Seager.

“I’ve been pretty lucky against him,” Blackley said. “He’s hit some hard balls that have been caught every time, but I’ve also got him on some other ones.”

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

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