ARLINGTON, Texas — While rookie pitcher Nick Tepesch was the big story Tuesday night for the Rangers, another young player also took a big step in the 6-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Center fielder Leonys Martin had his first multi-hit game of the season. Hitting out of the No. 9 spot in the order, Martin was 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored.
“He’s been swinging the bat, he just hasn’t been having much luck,” manager Ron Washington said. “Tonight he did some good things for us.”
Martin recorded just the fifth multi-hit game by a Ranger this season.
He drew a walk and scored from second on Lance Berkman’s single in the third inning.
Martin led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and later scored from second on an Elvis Andrus single. Martin singled again to start off the Rangers’ seventh inning and scored from third on a ground-out by Andrus.
The two hits raised Martin’s average to .188 and his on-base percentage improved to .316. He was just 1-for-13 coming into the game.
Martin finally showed a glimpse of the strong spring training he had offensively. The Rangers would like to see him show similar improvement with his decision-making in the outfield and on the basepaths.
“We never doubted that Martin can swing the bat, the rest of the game is what we were concerned about,” Washington said. “He’s showing us that that is coming together, also.”
Martin is splitting time in center field with Craig Gentry, who scored a run as a pinch runner Tuesday. So far, Gentry has been the more productive hitter despite getting just three starts in center to Martin’s five.
Gentry is hitting .300 (3-for-10) with five runs scored. His on-base percentage is .300, but he also has a double and a triple to give him six total bases to Martin’s three.
Gentry also has two steals while Martin has yet to steal a base.
The Rangers are giving Martin every opportunity to succeed. Martin, a Cuban defector, is in the third season of a 5-year, $15.5 million major league contract.
Offensive performances like the one Martin put together Tuesday helps reassure the faith the Rangers have shown in him.
“The guy can hit, so it’s just a matter of time,” Washington said. “Just keep getting him at-bats and everything will work out.”