ARLINGTON, Texas – A lot can change between now and the 12 weeks before Opening Day but Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has an idea of how he wants the top of his batting order to look.
That order has the newest Ranger – designated hitter Lance Berkman – hitting third.
“I’ll probably use him in the third spot,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I can put his there in front of Beltre.”
If the lineup holds, the switch-hitting Berkman will be the only hitter in the top five of the order who can bat from the left side.
Washington likes the idea of keeping Beltre in the No. 4 spot because he can hit any pitch. He plans to have Nelson Cruz hit fifth. Washington also said he doesn’t plan on changing anything at the top of the order, which means Ian Kinsler will lead off and Elvis Andrus will hit second.
Washington said the key to having that batting order is keeping everyone healthy between now and the March 31 opener against Houston. And there are no guarantees the Rangers are done making moves either.
But the Berkman move is something Washington approves of.
“He brings us a veteran presence,” Washington said. “Along with the veterans we have there, a very experienced presence. He’s a guy who takes very good at-bats and a guy who’s been a winner. All we did was add that type of character to our lineup.”
Even if the club doesn’t make another move before heading to Arizona for spring training next month, Washington is fine with where the club is despite missing out on some players they targeted this offseason.
“We didn’t do the things we set out to do and 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.”
The Rangers lost outfielder Josh Hamilton to free agency, traded Michael Young and Mike Napoli appears to be headed to Boston. The additions of Berkman and catcher A.J. Pierzynski offset the losses of Young and Napoli, but there’s no way to make up for the offensive production provided by Hamilton.
Washington doesn’t seem too concerned about that.
“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 his helping us put Ws on the board it really doesn’t matter. I always saw Roger Clemens left Boston. They kept going. Reggie Jackson left New York. They kept going. The Texas Rangers will keep going.”