ARLINGTON – Texas Rangers manager said he has been giving third baseman Adrian Beltre his own All-Star break this weekend, playing him at designated hitter to get him off his feet for two days.
Beltre will start in the MLB All-Star Game Tuesday night, as will 2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton. Yet Hamilton is starting in the field for the sixth straight game Sunday and has only started as the designated hitter once since June 25.
Where was Hamilton’s break?
“How can I think about not playing Josh after what he did last night?” Washington said. “If Josh comes up in here and tells me he’s blind, then he won’t play.”
Hamilton was 4-for-5 Saturday with three extra base hits, including a walk-off, two-run home run.
Washington said he’s developed trust with his players over the now five years he has been in Arlington.
“In my first few years here, [the players] didn’t understand [why I rest them when I do,]” Washington said. “And they didn’t understand it because they didn’t want to understand it. But as time moves on, they begin to believe in what I do and how I do it.”
The manager said he always gives players an explanation of why he’s sitting them, though the players don’t always like it.
“I use my gut and my experiences to make those calls,” Washington said. “Sometimes it might be one day. Sometimes I make it two. Sometimes I might make it three. I remember last year, I sat [first baseman Mitch] Moreland down for about four or five days after he hit a funk. He was complaining, but when he came back [he snapped out of it.]”
As a former player, Washington understands the drain and the grind of a 162-game schedule. Rangers veteran Michael Young said Washington has earned the trust of the players in the clubhouse.
“I think more than anything, we trust that Wash has our best interests at heart,” Young said. “He wants to put players in a position to succeed, and that’s all players ever want. They want honesty and people to put them in the best possible situations where they can have success. Wash is really good at that.”
Washington said if Hamilton ever tells him he doesn’t feel ready to play, the outfielder won’t play. But in the meantime, the Rangers are looking for their seventh straight win.
“We’re trying to finish this first half [of the season] off and I want all my guns in there,” Washington said. “And he’s one of my guns. Whether he gets anything done or not, just his presence will help me.”
Rotation to remain the same post-ASB:
The Rangers will stick with what’s been working following the All-Star break this week, leaving their pitching rotation in the same order beginning with Derek Holland when the team returns Thursday at Seattle.
“The same five guys we’ve got now will be there coming out of the break,” Washington said.
After Holland, Texas will go with Colby Lewis, then C.J. Wilson, then Matt Harrison before Alexi Ogando returns to the mound July 19 in Los Angeles.
Washington said Wilson and Harrison will swap their starts on July 21 and 22, as Wilson will still be on five days’ rest thanks to an off-day before the Angels series.
Texas has until Thursday to activate Scott Feldman, who is yet to pitch in 2011. It was uncertain whether the team intended to use Feldman as a starter or a reliever once he is activate, but Washington’s comments today indicate he will work out of the bullpen at least initially.
Washington reiterated that Holland was not pitching for his starting job before his complete-game shutout on Thursday.
“I don’t think I ever waivered in my confidence in Holland,” Washington said. “Did he need to do that for [himself]? Yes, he certainly did. But did he need to do that for Ron Washington? No.”
Though he did say the strong start may have eased some minds in the front office.
“But organizationally, because we all have to make decisions, he probably did [need to pitch well,]” Washington said. “But the most important part of it is, he needed to do it for Holland.”
Ogando added to AL All-Star team:
Alexi Ogando and the Rangers found out Sunday the first-year starter would be making his first All-Star team this year.
Ogando was added to the team to replace New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, who was in turn replacing Tampa Bay starter James Shields. Both Sabathia and Shields are pitching on Sunday, making them unavailable for the game.
“I feel very happy, of course,” Ogando said through a translator. “I always say that God always has surprises for me and about this game of baseball. Of course I’m very happy and proud to be an All-Star.”
The 27-year-old Dominican is 9-3 on the year after beginning the season 7-0. Ogando is ninth in the AL with a 2.92 ERA in 2011.
Washington had been hoping to give Ogando extra rest leading into and coming out of the All-Star break, but he’ll make an exception for this occasion.
“Can’t pass that up,” Washington said.