OAKLAND, Calif. -- The last time the Texas Rangers played the Oakland Athletics at the O.co Coliseum, they needed one win in their three-game, season-ending series to capture the American League West crown.
The Rangers lost all three games and watched as the A's won the West, capping a remarkable comeback. Oakland trailed Texas by 13 games on June 30 and passed them on the season's final day.
The Rangers will face Oakland for the first time Monday night since that disastrous series. But they're not looking back.
"That was last year," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said before Monday night's game. "This is a different year. All we want to do is regain our A.L. West division championship. That's really all we want to do. Right now it goes through Oakland. They're the division champs from last year, and we have to play well and be ready to play."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said this three-game series will have nothing to do with "revenge."
"We're here to win a ball game," Washington said. "They beat us. There's nothing we can do about that.
“When you start playing for revenge, you stop seeing what's in front of you."
At this point, the future looks bright for the Rangers. At 24-13, they're six games ahead of the 19-20 A's entering this series.
"We've been here so many times," Rangers left fielder David Murphy said. "We've had probably more good times than we've had bad times or, I guess, the one bad time that you'd think about from last year. It's a new group of guys. They have a new group of guys. We're playing for 2013, not 2012."
Pierzynski making progress: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who's on disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle, hit off a tee for the first time since being injured and played catch for a second straight day.
"Took 40 swings off a tee," Pierzynski said. "Went pretty good. I threw. A full workout. Ready to go. The next step is to hit some flips, hit some batting practice and then hopefully be back next Tuesday when I'm eligible."
Pierzynski said he expects to take live batting practice Thursday when the Rangers return to Arlington. He said he's still not sure if he'll need to go on a rehab assignment before being activated.
Murphy still rolling: Murphy was in the starting lineup for the second straight game Monday night, two days after badly bruising his back. Murphy ran into the left field wall in the eighth inning Saturday against the Houston Astros while trying to catch Robbie Grossman's double. He stayed in the game and started Sunday against Houston.
"It's OK," Murphy said of his back. "It hurts a little bit. It's progressively getting better. There is a pretty big bruise. Not so much today, but yesterday and right after I did it, I was wondering a little bit if it was fractured or not."
Murphy said he did not have X-rays taken on his back.
Washington said he is "comfortable" with having Murphy in the starting lineup and has no plans to take him out late for defensive purposes.
"He's fine," Washington said.
Comeback trail: Right-hander Kyle McClellan, who suffered a strained right lat muscle during spring training, made his first appearance Monday at extended spring training. He pitched one inning Monday. McClellan, formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals, signed a minor-league contract with the Rangers on Jan. 15. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in July, but looked impressive during a brief stint in spring training before being injured.