Texas Rangers

June 15, 2014

Martin eager to seize Rangers’ leadoff spot

Center fielder Leonys Martin says that he feels comfortable atop the lineup and tries to takes as many pitches as possible.

Leonys Martin found himself atop the Texas Rangers’ lineup Sunday for a second consecutive game, some 14 hours after he delivered the game-winning hit in a 4-3 victory late Saturday.

Martin badly wants to be the Rangers’ leadoff man. He said that he has been there throughout his career and that he doesn’t change his approach when moved up from the bottom of the order.

He knows what he’s doing, he said.

“I feel comfortable,” Martin said. “I stay with the same approach. I can read the pitcher a lot better. I try to get on base and take as many pitches as I can. I want to stay there and play hard for my team. I like leading off.”

At the very least, it appears as though the left-handed hitter will batting first against right-handed starters. Martin might also get some lefties, but the right-handed-hitting Michael Choice could be leading off the next two games against Oakland lefties Drew Pomeranz and Tommy Milone.

Martin has the speed of a prototypical leadoff man, but he hasn’t been a hitter who sees a lot of pitches.

“I’m not going to say, ‘Take pitches,’ ” manager Ron Washington said. “If he sees something he likes, put a good swing on it. Down in the lineup, he was slashing at everything. We’ll see how it goes.”

Oakland bound

Washington gave a pretty frank answer when asked about the importance of the Rangers’ three-game series this week at division-leading Oakland.

“We’ve got to go in there and play well, or we could get buried,” Washington said.

Said third baseman Adrian Beltre: “We have to beat the guys in front of us. They’re in front. They’ve won the West the last two years.”

At the same time, though, Washington doesn’t want to put too much emphasis on the series. He’s not going to call a meeting to fire up the team. If the pitching holds up, he believes the Rangers will be fine.

But it didn’t hold up in late April at Globe Life Park, when the A’s swept three games. None of the Rangers’ three starters lasted five innings, including the shortest outing of Yu Darvish’s career at just 3 1/3 innings.

Colby Lewis will start the opener Monday. He hasn’t faced the A’s since suffering a torn flexor tendon during a start July 18, 2012.

Lewis has an enormous bruise on his right biceps after taking a line drive there Tuesday, but he said there is no pain.

“I haven’t had any problems,” said Lewis, who is 4-4 with a 5.74 ERA. “I’m just hoping to find that consistency.”

Soto on trip

Rehabbing catcher Geovany Soto is making his first road trip of the season as he continues to do more and more baseball activities.

Soto was on the field early Sunday, running on his surgically repaired right knee and going through some agility drills. He then went inside to the batting cage, where he took 60 swings off a tee.

He hopes to be taking live batting practice during the Rangers’ next homestand, and he fully expects to be activated for the first game after the All-Star break.

“I don’t want to put words in the doctor’s mouth,” said Soto, who was injured late in spring training. “It feels awesome. I feel like I’m going to make that [July 18 at Toronto] no problem.”

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