Lance Berkman to hit third for Rangers, Washington says

ARLINGTON -- Opening Day is more than 11 weeks away, but Ron Washington has an idea of what the Texas Rangers' top half of the lineup will look like.

Things can change, of course, but Washington tabbed newly signed designated hitter Lance Berkman as the three-hole batter following Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. Adrian Beltre would stay in the cleanup spot, Washington said, because he has the ability to hit any pitch.

Nelson Cruz would bat fifth followed by some combination of catcher A.J. Pierzynski, left fielder David Murphy, first baseman Mitch Moreland and platooning center fielders Leonys Martin or Craig Gentry.

Washington likes the addition of Berkman, a switch hitter who has a career .409 on-base percentage, but he doesn't expect Berkman to replace former No. 3 batter Josh Hamilton.

"You don't replace a Josh Hamilton, but what you try to do is supplement his production," Washington said. "We've got Berkman right now as the DH. I don't expect him to hit 42 bombs, and I don't expect him to drive in 130 runs. But whatever he gives us, as long as that production is helping us put W's on the board, it really doesn't matter.

"I always say, 'Roger Clemens left Boston.' They kept going. Reggie Jackson left New York. They kept going. The Texas Rangers will keep going."

The Rangers haven't had the best off-season in terms of making headlines, but it's hard to see fan backlash at this point.

Fans were lined up around the building more than an hour before the team's second winter caravan stop at the Academy Sports and Outdoors in south Arlington on Thursday night. And more are expected this weekend at Fan Fest, which begins today at 4 p.m. at the Arlington Convention Center.

"We didn't do the things we set out to do, but I thought we did a heck of a job trying," Washington said. "Sometimes things just don't fall the way you want them to fall. We're very happy with our lineup. We're very happy with the people we brought in. We're very confident we will compete and we will challenge."

There is time left before the season starts for the Rangers to make more moves, but general manager Jon Daniels said he didn't expect any more major moves when the Berkman signing was announced.

The Rangers have checked on outfielder Michael Bourn and right-hander Kyle Lohse, both Scott Boras clients and the two best free agents remaining, but deals for either seem unlikely at this point.

Bourn would block the path for Martin, who is expected to be given a chance to win the everyday center field job in spring training along with Gentry and Julio Borbon.

Lohse, a groundball pitcher coming off a career year with St. Louis, would complete the Rangers' rotation but also would come at a steep price. For now, the Rangers seem ready to have a competition for the final rotation spot between Martin Perez, Justin Grimm, Robbie Ross and others.

It could be for the short-term, too, as Colby Lewis is recovering well after his 2012 season ended in late July with right elbow surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon.

Lewis, who attended Thursday's caravan stop, said he is throwing three times a week and has reported no residual pain or effects. He might be able to return in May; however, he won't rush back until he's 100 percent.

"I want to help that playoff push in the second half," Lewis said.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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