Buzz: Magadan keeping faith in hitters

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan offered his take on the Rangers scoring some early runs some time soon, like starting Monday night.

"I'm in favor of it," Magadan said. "I'm not against it."

The Rangers just completed a six-game homestand in which they went 54 innings without holding a lead. They've trailed at the end of 34 consecutive innings going back to Wednesday against Pittsburgh. They haven't led since last Sunday in Anaheim against the Angels.

So Magadan would happliy make scoring early runs a part of his hitting philosophy.

"It would be nice to jump out to a nice lead," Magadan said. "The guys know that. They hear it all the time. They realize what's at stake and what we're going through. I have confidence in our guys and we have to prove it."

Magadan was the hitting coach for a Boston Red Sox team that collapsed in 2011 and missed the playoffs, but he said that season wasn't anything like what the Rangers' offense is going through.

"It was different," Magadan said. "It's something you don't forget. I don't think frustrating is the right word (for what the Rangers are dealing with). Baseball's a funny game. It's not an easy game. It's why these guys get paid a lot of money to do it. They know what they need to do to get out of it. There are so many variables as a hitter. Like (Sunday) I thought we had some pretty good at-bats."

Magadan pointed to an at-bat by Ian Kinsler with two runners on when he lined out to A's right fielder Josh Reddick. Joey Butler and Jim Adduci also had good at-bats. Adduci had three hits.

Magadan said it's important for his players to have a good approach and try not to change too much. He came to the Rangers stressing a hitting approach of "doing the little things a lot." He wanted to see the Rangers be as versatile on offense -- whether it's hitting home runs or stealing bases -- to generate runs as they were when they reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

It just hasn't happened. The Rangers haven't hit a home run in six straight games. They're 12th in the American League with runners in scoring position with a .251 average. They've batted .225 in the last 15 games and the Rangers have won twice.

It hasn't been the first season Magadan thought it would be in Texas, but he refuses to stop believing.

"Certainly the first year with the team, you want everything to go great," Magadan said. "It would be nice to be not only at the top of the standings, but doing a good job offensively. As a hitting coach, it's not so much scoring a lot of runs, you don't want the offense to be the reason you're not winning games."

But Magadan says he's still confident his hitters will turn things around in these final 14 games.

"We have as tough a group of guys as anybody in baseball," Magadan said. "They've been through a lot, young guys that are learning to make it through the tough times. They learn from the veteran guys. We have a good group of guys that talk to our young guys. There's a respect factor there."

Manager Ron Washington defended Magadan and all of his coaches, saying it's everyone's responsibility.

"He believes in our guys. He believes in every one of those guys," Washington said. "It comes down to a point where you have to stop looking for reasons and start seeing what the reasons are for real. In our last nine ballgames, no coach has had anything to do with those games. It's not just the coaches. It's all of us. It's all of us. When things go wrong, the coaches, the players, everybody is responsible. It's not just the coaches."

Fifth-starter: Washington said he'll decide about Tuesday's starter after Monday's game with Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch, Travis Blackley and Ross Wolf all candidates to make the start.

Ogando would seem like the best candidate, but Washington said he'd likely be able to go only three innings after returning from the disabled list to the bullpen. Tepesch would be good for five innings.

Ogando has impressed in his return with his velocity back to 95-96 mph and his slider is working again. He has six scoreless innings in four games since coming back from his third stint on the DL For shoulder inflammation.

"He's been throwing the ball well," Washington said. "The issue that he had when he was on the DL cleared itself up. And now he has freedom and now his arm is swinging better and that's why his velocity is better. He doesn't feel uncomfortable. He even has more bite on his slider. It's snapping, not spinning."

Players-only meeting: The Rangers had a players-only meeting before Monday's game, one that manager Ron Washington was happy about, but also responded to by saying, "I hope they've figured it out."

And then?

"Go out there and do it," Washington said. "I don't give a damn what they said, I want them to go out there and do it. It comes down to getting a win."

The meeting lasted for about 15 minutes and ended with the players coming out in good spirits.

"Everybody is back on the same page," outfielder David Murphy said. "We're ready to basically give everything we have and throw our best game out there for the last 14."

Short hops: Adduci is the man in left field against right-handers, which means Murphy will be coming off the bench. "If I can find it for the remaining 14 games, for whatever opportunities I get, it's going to be a huge opportunity to help the team," Murphy said. "So I'm going to do whatever I can." ... Lance Berkman started Monday's game at designated hitter and with right-handers going for Tampa Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday -- Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer -- we might see more of the veteran if his health and swing hold up.