Elvis Andrus returned to batting second for the Texas Rangers on Friday night and hopes to stay there this time around.
Manager Ron Washington dropped the slumping Andrus in the lineup on Sunday. Andrus was in the midst of a 1-for-24 stretch and the offense had been reeling.
“When you have a big pride like I do, it’s not a good feeling when they drop you down,” Andrus said. “But you have to understand it as a professional, it was best for the team at that moment. I’m glad I’m back in my spot and hopefully I’ll stay there the whole year.”
Washington said the two-hole is where Andrus will get the bulk of his at-bats, but he wasn’t ready to anoint him fully back. Instead, Washington said, the decision had more to do with his desire to avoid having consecutive left-handed batters high in the order.
Washington has seen Andrus taking a better approach at the plate, though, as Andrus extended his hitting streak to six games with a single in the first inning Friday. He also singled in his next two at-bats.
“His approach has looked better, he’s trying to stay inside the baseball and keep it up the middle,” Washington said. “It’s just a matter of time. Elvis is a good hitter, he’s not a bad hitter. ... I hope he gets off tonight so I can leave him there.”
Washington was rotating the No. 2 spot among several batters in Andrus’ place, including Leonys Martin, Josh Wilson, Daniel Robertson and Michael Choice.
Left-hander Joe Saunders feels he is a starter and is not ready to give up that role yet. That’s why he asked the Rangers to allow him to make a couple more starts in the minor leagues.
Saunders, 32, will pitch for Double A Frisco on Saturday and for Triple A Round Rock on Thursday in hopes of showing the Rangers, or possibly other teams, that he’s still a big-league starter.
The Rangers informed Saunders that his likely role would be in the bullpen when he’s ready to return, but he’s not sold on that idea.
“I don’t think I need to change anybody’s mind ... . I think I need to prove to a couple people that I’m completely healthy and the ankle is not a problem,” said Saunders, who has started 222 games over 10 years in the big leagues.
“They brought me on to start from the beginning, and that’s still my expectation and still my goal. I’m here to start and win games for the Texas Rangers. That’s what they’re paying me to do, and that’s what I want to do.”
Rookie Nick Martinez found himself in a prominent relief spot Thursday, entering a 2-0 game with a runner on in the sixth inning.
It was the first high-leverage situation Martinez has pitched in as a reliever, and he handled it well. He struck out the first batter he faced and, after giving up a double to put runners at second and third, got another strikeout in a six-pitch at-bat to end the inning.
“It could have gotten wild after he gave up that double, but you have to give him a lot of credit,” Washington said. “He’s not fazed. I just hope he continues to have that mindset.”
Martinez, of course, is happy to be in the big leagues and is willing to handle any role. He broke spring training as the fifth starter, making one start April 5 at Tampa Bay, before heading to Double A Frisco.
But an injury to Tanner Scheppers led to another start for Martinez on April 22 at Oakland, and he has remained with the team as a reliever.
“It’s been going smooth,” Martinez said of his transition to the bullpen. “It’s always fun to pitch with the game on the line. It gets your adrenaline going, and it’s a testament to how you can play.”
Briefly• Second baseman Jurickson Profar, on the DL with a torn muscle in his right shoulder, is expected to serve as the designated hitter in an extended spring training game Monday in Arizona.
• Right-hander Tanner Scheppers (right elbow inflammation) is hoping to throw a bullpen session Monday in Houston.
• Left-hander Martin Perez said his confidence hasn’t been shaken after two straight shaky outings. “That’s part of the game,” said Perez, who starts Saturday. “You have to stay focused and be ready for your next game. I feel great. I’m healthy and I’m ready.”
• The Rangers have two players, 20-year-olds Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor, under 21 years of age on their active roster for the first time since 1991. That year, they had right-hander Hector Fajardo (20) and catcher Ivan Rodriguez (19) on their roster in September.