ARLINGTON -- Infielder Chris Davis thought his career with the Rangers might have been over.
The three-year pro has spent his career thus far drifting back and forth between the major and minor leagues in the Texas farm system. Despite playing well in his time with the big-league team this season, Davis has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors for the last month.
"The last few weeks, there's obviously been a lot of speculation as to what [the Rangers] were going to do to try to get a bullpen piece and I didn't know [if I'd be back,]" Davis said.
Davis will have big cleats to fill at third base.
Adrian Beltre started at third base for the American League in the All-Star Game and has hit .276 with 20 home runs, 29 doubles and 76 RBIs in 100 games with the Rangers this year. He leads the team in extra-base hits, RBIs and total bases.
"You don't replace that," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "You just do the best you can."
Davis and designated hitter Michael Young will fill in at third, though Washington didn't know how much he would use each. He said "his pen" would make the decision every day.
Washington wasn't sure if it was just going to be a two-week injury for Beltre, but the team said it was a grade-one strain, the least-severe variety. The third baseman would be eligible to return August 7.
In the meantime, Davis will get another opportunity to prove himself at the big-league level. He has shown the ability to hit for power in the majors, but Davis has been plagued by strikeouts in previous years.
Washington said Davis is different this year.
"No doubt about it, [he looked like an improved hitter thie year,]" Washington said. "He laid off a lot of stuff that he usually had been chasing. I think he knows where his weakness is. If he can step in that box, control his nerves, make them elevate the ball -- that's what he has to do."
Davis was with the club from April 13 to May 22 this year, but has played in just one major-league game since. Overall, he has a .269 average (14-for-52) with three home runs and four RBIs in 2011. However he has been devastating in the minors, hitting .368 (71-for-193) with 24 home runs and 66 RBIs in 48 games with Round Rock this year.
"I think earlier this year really helped me out; being able to come back and play a little bit, kind of come off the bench and do the role-player thing," Davis said. "It kind of got my confidence back. I had a great spring and felt really good about where I was and I was able to take that into the season."
Beltre is also known as a formidable defender at third base, but Davis said his focus and extra work in the minors this year has been at third base and that's where he feels most comfortable right now. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Davis will be one of the bigger third basemen in the sport.
"He's big, but he's got some quickness, good hands," Washington said. "We're certainly not expecting him to come and be no Beltre, but he'll make plays."
Feldman makes first appearance after eight days:
Reliever Scott Feldman was activated from the 60-day DL on July 14, just over halfway through the Rangers' 12-game win streak. The wins were fueled by strong starting pitching performances that kept Feldman and much of the rest of the bullpen off the field.
Feldman finally saw his first action of 2011 in Friday's 12-2 win over Toronto, eight days after joining the big-league club.
“You’ve got to stay ready,” Feldman said. “The way the starters have been pitching, we really haven’t been needed out there, which is a good thing. So, I hope they keep pitching well and we’re just going to try to stay sharp out there as well as we can.”
Washington said he was happy to get Feldman and fellow reliever Arthur Rhodes in the game after a long break of his own. He said Rhodes “pounded the strikezone” and didn’t see any signs of rust from Feldman.
“[Feldman] had good sink [on his pitches,] good life and he threw strikes,” Washington said. “To haven’t pitched in that many days, you were looking for him to be erratic but [he wasn’t.]”
Feldman said he could have improved on his command Friday, but expects that to come with more innings pitched. He didn’t feel any effects of the knee surgery that has delayed the start of his season.
“Everything felt pretty good,” Feldman said. “My knee felt good, my arm is nice and rested – everything felt good.”
Wash hopes Cruz keeps correct approach:
Right fielder Nelson Cruz had a career-high, eight-RBI game in Friday's win over the Blue Jays. He entered Friday's game in a 7-for-34 (.206) slump before his 4-for-4 game improved his season average almost .010 to .252.
Manager Ron Washington said Cruz followed the approach the skipper has been preaching all year to the outfielder. He wants Cruz to focus on bringing his bat around as if he's aiming for center field on every swing, and hit it to all fields based on the location of the pitch.
"I keep saying it -- stay in the middle of the field," Washington said. "That don't mean he's not going to pull balls [to left field,] but when you stay in the middle of the field, your timing is right there to yank it if it's not out there to stay in the middle of the field."
Washington said he's never sure if Cruz' approach will remain the same game-to-game, but he hopes this is the beginning of a positive streak for the streak-prone right fielder.
"You never know how he's going to react the next day, but I just hope that was it for him," Washington said. "Because if that's it for him, that's it for us, too."