Texas Rangers

June 7, 2014

Rangers notes: Mitch Moreland moves out of No. 3 hole in lineup

The first baseman, replaced by Shin-Soo Choo, had struggled in the past 12 games.

Shin-Soo Choo doesn’t care where he bats in the Texas Rangers’ lineup, so long as he is in the spot where the coaching staff believes he will help the team most.

For the most part this season, he has been the leadoff hitter. On Saturday, though, he was in the third spot as manager Ron Washington dropped Mitch Moreland to sixth in the continued search for the Rangers’ most productive lineup.

“I just wanted to give Mitch a little break and try to bunch my guys that are swinging the bat well together,” Washington said.

Moreland isn’t part of that group. After taking over for Prince Fielder in the No. 3 spot, Moreland batted .196 with no homers and six RBIs in 12 games to drop his average to .252.

He entered Saturday as a .282 hitter in 29 games as the Rangers’ No. 6 batter.

Choo, meanwhile, batted .333 in a six-game sample as the No. 3 hitter last month and carried a .282 average in 277 career games in the three hole.

Washington stressed to Choo to not change his approach just because he’s changing spots in the lineup.

“I have experience batting third,” Choo said. “I don’t feel like I have to change something. I do the same thing. I see the good pitches and I swing. I see the bad pitches and I take them.

“I won’t do it like Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera, but I can do my job.”

Michael Choice replaced Choo atop the lineup.

Draft wraps up

The Rangers capped a pitching-heavy final day of the First-Year Player Draft by selecting a college arm that they will have for only two of the next 20 months.

They used their 40th-round pick on Nick Dignacco, who will join the Rangers’ short-season A club in Spokane, Wash., before fulfilling an 18-month obligation to the United States Army.

Dignacco will likely go on the reserve list while serving, and the Rangers will welcome him back once his duty is complete. The challenge is keeping him sharp while out of the game.

“Being in the military and the commitment he has, I respect him for it,” scouting director Kip Fagg said. “We’re just going to have to see what happens when he comes back. He’s got a feel to pitch and throws a lot of strikes. We like the makeup.”

The Rangers loaded up on college pitchers, using 16 of their 30 picks Saturday on them and 20 of the 40 overall. Fagg said the strength of the draft was in college arms and that there is nothing more than that to read into the Rangers’ list of draftees.

The Rangers opened the day by using their 11th pick on right-hander Scott Williams, a converted catcher from State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Their first overall pick, Luis Ortiz, was from a high school in California.

The ninth- and 10th-round picks, outfielder Doug Votolato and catcher Seth Spivey, have already signed with the club.

Saunders’ improvement

Joe Saunders has allowed two runs in two starts since coming off the disabled list, but it hasn’t been easy.

The left-hander has found himself consistently having to work out of trouble, which has caused his pitch counts to soar and his innings to lessen.

There’s work to be done as he enters his start Sunday against Cleveland after logging five innings May 28 at Minnesota and six Monday against Baltimore.

“I should go seven, right?” he said. “I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. There’s room for improvement.”

Saunders said that he is continuing to refine the adjustments he made in his delivery while on rehab assignment with fractures in his left foot. He’s also searching for better command of his secondary pitches.

“There’s definitely some more tweaking that needs to go on,” he said. “I feel like there could be even more in the tank. It’s a matter of fine-tuning. It’s going to take a little more time.”

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