The worst Texas Rangers team shortstop Elvis Andrus had played for before this season was the 2009 club that finished 87-75 and was a playoff contender as late as mid-September.
The Rangers could hit the 75-loss mark next week, and they should consider themselves fortunate to finish with 67 victories. They know that each game will be a chore to win.
But Andrus and third baseman Adrian Beltre are finding a way to go out and perform each game during what could be the Rangers’ first 100-loss season since 1973, their second season in Arlington.
It hasn’t been easy, but it’s their job to play and to lead by example.
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“We have a lot of young guys in their first time in the majors, and I know they look up to me,” Beltre said. “I have to stay positive and let them know that even though we haven’t played well the last seven weeks, we can still play better and finish on a high note.”
Part of the motivation for Andrus is to get better. General manager Jon Daniels has mentioned Andrus as one of the players who needs to get better the rest of the season.
He extended his hitting streak to 12 games Tuesday, a streak in which he has batted .362 to lift his average to .271. He is the team leader with 26 doubles, and believes, in part because of his 2013 second-half surge, that his best baseball is ahead of him.
“Being used to fighting for first place, it is a little tougher, but it’s our job,” Andrus said. “I want to end up having a good year. I had a slow first half. For me to have an all-round second half, that’s good motivation besides winning games and not having that 100-loss season.”
Manager Ron Washington has seen Beltre take the lead in leading the young players, with Andrus taking cues from Beltre. One thing Washington hasn’t seen is quit from any of his players.
“I don’t see any difference in the way they go about their business,” Washington said. “When it’s all over, believe me, you learn a lot more with what we’re going through than you learn if you were successful.”
San Diego plans to hire Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller to fill its vacant GM post, and his departure will mark the second significant departure in nine seasons from GM Jon Daniels’ staff.
Fox Sports first reported the news. A message left for Preller, who is expected to accept the Padres’ offer, went unanswered.
Preller has served as the Rangers’ point man in Latin America and has also overseen amateur scouting. He was given the assistant GM title last off-season.
Daniels has been bracing for the departure of Preller, and there is a level of concern that he could seek to hire away some members of the Rangers’ front office and scouting department.
The first significant departure from Daniels’ staff was farm director Scott Servais, who left in 2011 to become an assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Angels.
Tepesch a go
Right-hander Nick Tepesch had no issues with his left knee during bullpen sessions Friday and Sunday, so he will rejoin the Rangers’ rotation for the series finale Wednesday.
Aside from getting time to heal since his July 26 start, he also was able to work on his mechanics without the burden of potentially wearing himself out between starts.
“I’m trying to feel like myself and feel the things I need to feel to be where I need to be,” said Tepesch, who left his last start with knee soreness three pitches into the second inning. “You’re not going to feel the same one day to the next, and it’s a matter of recognizing how you feel that day and making the necessary adjustments quickly.”
Jerome Williams, who replaced Tepesch on Friday at Cleveland, has been moved into the bullpen.
Robinson Chirinos is expected to catch a third straight game Wednesday with Chris Gimenez on the paternity list, but then the Rangers could have a decision to make this weekend.
Gimenez must be activated Thursday, even though the Rangers are off, and Geovany Soto is expected to come off the disabled list Friday to again give the Rangers three catchers.
Gimenez can’t be optioned to the minors, but outfielders Jim Adduci and Daniel Robertson have options remaining. The Rangers also have eight pitchers in the bullpen, many of whom have options left.