Rangers shake things up to try to break out of funk

Rangers shake things up to try to break out of funk

Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers second baseman Luis Sardinas (3) stops a grounder against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

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by LANDON HAAF

WFAA Sports

Posted on June 27, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 27 at 7:18 PM

Twenty-year-old infielder Luis Sardinas will see action at third base for the third time this season on Friday night. Thirty-six-year-old Carlos Pena, playing in just his fourth game with Texas and eleventh professional game this season, is penciled into the third spot in the order.

Adrian Beltre will get what manager Ron Washington calls a “half-day off” as the designated hitter.

So it goes when a club tries to snap an eight-game losing streak. The lineup card shake-up, which also includes Shin-Soo Choo's first start in the leadoff spot since June 6 and Leonys Martin hitting sixth for the fourth time this year, has nothing to do with scheduled rest.

“Just trying to do something different,” Washington said.

Before the first game of a new series, the Rangers will pile into an office in the clubhouse and have a hitters meeting to discuss the team’s approach against a new opponent. But such a meeting after being swept in back-to-back series might be as much of a gut check as it is a strategic rendezvous.

“You find out what you’re made of,” Washington said when asked what he tells his players at a time like this. “The leaders have to show how to lead when things aren’t going right. I have no issues with my leaders, it’s just a matter of getting things back together.”

Wash said that the main leader on the club is Beltre, but that everyone in the clubhouse needs to be a leader when the collective group is on a skid like Texas hasn’t seen since 2005.

As the great Robert Pike pointed out, injuries aren’t an excuse for this team. But as the wise Peter Ellwood explained, starting pitchers nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11 are being called on for significant innings.

The circumstances have filled the aforementioned clubhouse with minor-leaguers, role players and young players.

And especially with young players, growing pains are expected, like with 23-year-old Nick Martinez, who was on the down side of the ups-and-downs Thursday, walking five hitters over 2.1 innings.

Like with all young players, Washington said Martinez can learn from his struggles.

“He had nothing he can go to. But he finally does, because last night he gained some experience,” Wash said. “I think he’ll take what happened last night and the next time something like happens he’ll know what he has to do to get out of it.”

I could be inventing causality from mere correlation, but the usually-bearded Martinez showed up at the ballpark clean-shaven Friday.

As a perennially bearded individual myself, I can assure you that isn’t an on-a-whim decision made without desire for change.

Clean face, clean slate, perhaps.

The other Nick, Tepesch, and the Rangers - with varying amounts of facial hair - begin a three-game weekend set with the Twins starting Friday night at 7:05 p.m. on a quest to end the longest losing skid in Ron Washington’s tenure as Rangers manager.

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