Another day, another new No. 2 hitter for the Texas Rangers, who continue to search for a player who can be productive high in the batting order while Elvis Andrus gets sorted out at the bottom.
Leonys Martin on Tuesday became the third player in three games to rotate into the spot, following Daniel Robertson and Josh Wilson. But manager Ron Washington put Martin there begrudgingly.
“I was very hesitant about moving Leonys,” Washington said. “He’s doing well where he is, but we’re going to see if we can get some offense in the top of the order.
“He’s a slasher. He’s not an on-base percentage guy. Until he fully learns what he’s capable of doing and how to go about doing it, I’ll try to protect him.”
Martin might only bat second for one game, Washington said, even though he has made strides doing the things Washington wants from a No. 2 hitter. The ideal candidate can bunt and hit-and-run, things that Washington believes the Rangers need.
He also doesn’t want a lineup that doesn’t have a threat sitting behind No. 4 hitter Prince Fielder.
“If I had a lineup where I could take a big bat and put it in the second hole and I had a No. 4 hitter that would still be protected, maybe that’s something you would think about,” Washington said. “I try to construct a lineup so it can function. Functioning for me is when a situation presents itself on the field, I can put something on and make it happen.”
‘All about starting’
Joe Saunders feels he’s getting closer to starting in the big leagues again after allowing three runs over four innings in a rehab start at Double A Frisco.
The question, though, is if there’s a spot in the Rangers’ rotation for Saunders. Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis have secure spots, and Robbie Ross has shown flashes early on.
That could force the Rangers to view Saunders, out with a stress fracture in his left ankle, as a long reliever, but Saunders isn’t interested in that job.
“For me, it’s all about starting and helping this team win games as a starter,” said Saunders, who threw 66 pitches. “It’s what I signed to do and what they signed me to do.”
Washington said that the Rangers will have a decision to make.
“That’s a decision we’re going to have a group discussion on,” Washington said. “And Joe Saunders will be included in that group discussion.”
The only complaint right-hander Lewis has after four starts on his surgically repaired hip is that he has yet to pitch in the seventh inning. He hopes to get past the sixth Wednesday in start No. 5.
“It seems like all my starts have kind of run into an inning where I throw more pitches than I need to,” Lewis said. “It’s just trying to have quicker, more consistent innings in order to make that happen. But I feel like I’ve gotten better each time out. It’ll get there eventually.”
His right hip, which underwent a resurfacing procedure in August, continues to be trouble-free. With his mechanics figured out, his fastball has had more velocity later in games.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “I wish the rest of my body would feel as good as the hip does.”
• Second baseman Jurickson Profar took batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time since suffering a torn shoulder muscle late in spring camp. He expects to throw today, also a first since the injury.
• Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff underwent a microdiscectomy to repair a herniated disk in Los Angeles, where he will stay through the weekend before heading to Texas.
Staff writer Drew Davison contributed to this report.