Justin Smoak’s highly anticipated big-league debut will come Friday when the Texas Rangers purchase his contract from Triple A Oklahoma City and send down struggling first baseman Chris Davis.
Smoak, the Rangers’ first-round draft choice in 2008, was hitting .326 in 46 at-bats for the RedHawks. His on-base percentage, though, was sitting at a cool .500 after drawing 16 walks in his first 14 games of the season.
Davis, meanwhile, has struggled with the Rangers. He drew a walk Thursday night but was 0 for 3 as his average dipped to .188 and his OBP to .264. Davis went 5 for 29 on the nine-game road trip and has no homers and just one RBI this season.
He was informed of the decision after the Rangers' 3-0 win at Boston and was not available for comment. The demotion marks the second straight season that Davis has struggled early and been optioned to Oklahoma City.
“Justin has been having really quality at-bats at Triple A, and we just felt we could use more production out of that spot in the lineup,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We want to see if he can continue to have those high quality at-bats in the big leagues.
“Chris is working hard. He’s putting the time and the work in. It’s early in the season, but I think if this had been Chris’ first exposure to the big leagues, we would have been inclined to wait.
“But we’ve got a quality option performing at Triple A. We felt like offensively we’re not clicking yet as a club, and this was an opportunity to help in that regard.”
Smoak has played only 134 minor-league games since he signed with the Rangers after an All-American career at South Carolina. A switch-hitter, Smoak is regarded as the top position player in the Rangers’ system.
While his defense might not be as good as Davis’, Smoak is considered a good defender. Defense is what kept Davis in the lineup last year when he struggled for most of the first half of the season.
“We’re not looking at Justin Smoak to ride in on a white horse and save the day,” Daniels said. “We just want him to play good defense and get us four or five quality at-bats a night. The rest will take care of itself.
“There are other spots in the offense that are off to slow starts. But this is a position where we have some depth in the system and a guy we feel that can help us right now.”
The Rangers will option Chris Davis to Triple A Oklahoma City tomorrow and purchase the contract of Justin Smoak. A conference call is trying to be arranged as the Rangers are heading to catch a plane home.
No one is warming in the Rangers' bullpen as they bat in the ninth with a 3-0 lead. Manager Ron Washington said Neftali Feliz would be available for three outs, but perhaps the three-run edge and a quick two outs by Darren Oliver in the eighth have convinced him and Mike Maddux to sit Feliz.
Manager Ron Washington said before the game that Neftali Feliz would be available to get three outs tonight if needed, even though the right-hander threw two dominant innings Wednesday. It appears as though Feliz will be used in the ninth, assuming the Rangers continue to hold the lead. It would be the first time in his career for him to pitch on consecutive days. The Rangers are up 3-0 with one out in the eighth and Darren Oliver on.
Ian Kinsler was all set to start playing in extending spring-training games today, but there was one little problem: There were no games scheduled. So, Kinsler didn't play but is expected to be a designated hitter in Surprise, Ariz., on Friday. Kinsler took batting practice and fielded some grounders today.
Nelson Cruz's right hamstring was stronger than it was Wednesday, and he told manager Ron Washington he could play tonight. So, he's playing but as the designated hitter as Vladimir Guerrero gets his first day off of the season. Guerrero is fine, said Washington, and is simply getting some rest time.
Rangers lineup: Elvis Andrus, ss; Michael Young, 3b; Josh Hamilton, lf; Nelson Cruz, rf; David Murphy, rf; Chris Davis, 1b; Taylor Teagarden, c; Andres Blanco, 2b; Julio Borbon, cf.
Red Sox lineup: Marco Scutaro, ss; J.D. Drew, rf; Dustin Pedroia, 2b; Kevin Youkilis, 1b; Victor Martinez, c; Mike Lowell, dh; Adrian Beltre, 3b; Darnell McDonald, cf; Bill Hall, lf.
The sun is out and a light rain is falling. The forecast calls for a very good chance for showers right around first pitch. This could be a Bull Durham situation, when a struggling team needs a day off and gets a rain out. This is real precipitation, though, and not a strange sprinkler problem.
Another last at-bat loss for the Rangers. That's five times this season the Rangers have seen an opponent score the winning run in its last turn with the lumber. Boston has done it to the Rangers two nights in a row.
Nelson Cruz likely will not start Thursday. He left a second straight game with a cramp in his right hamstring, and manager Ron Washington is leaning toward giving him a day off.
Josh Hamilton's seventh-inning homer was his first of the season and the first since he hit two against Toronto on Sept. 1. He missed a good deal of September with back woes. Hamilton's RBI single in the second ended an 0-for-13 slump.
Dustin Pedroia was intentionally walked in the 12th after Marco Scutaro tagged up and took second on a deep flyball to center field. Pedroia is 5 for 11 lifetime against Dustin Nippert. Kevin Youkilis was 0 for 5, but he's now 1 for 6.
Julio Borbon said he was caught off-guard by Scutaro tagging up. He said he has now learned to watch for that, but he should be expecting more teams to test his arm.
Borbon thought he was clearly safe at home while trying to score on a Michael Young flyball to center field in the fourth. "I slid head-first," he said. "I don't think there was anyone who had a better view." Washington said that missed call was the difference. A missed call Tuesday on what should have been a ground-rule double in the sixth also played a key role in a Rangers loss.
Matt Harrison, who issued three homers and six runs in four-plus innings, was pulled from the game after Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux noticed Harrison had lost his legs. He apparently lost the contents of his stomach afterward in the clubhouse and was sent home to the hotel before the game had ended with a stomach bug.
In a statement just released by Major League Baseball, it says it has taken control of the sale process. Here it is:"
"As part of the Texas Rangers sale process, Tom Hicks selected the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group as the chosen bidder on December 15, 2009, and entered into an exclusive agreement with that group. Major League Baseball is currently in control of the sale process and will use all efforts to achieve a closing with the chosen bidder. Any deviation from or interference with the agreed upon sale process by Mr. Hicks or any other party, or any actions in violation of MLB rules or directives will be dealt with appropriately by the Commissioner."