Buzz: Magadan asks hitters to relax with runners on

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Hitting coach Dave Magadan's message to his players as they struggle with runners in scoring position -- depend on each other.

Setting aside the Rangers' 10-6 eruption against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, the Rangers have scored five runs in four games, all losses.

The Rangers were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's 3-1 loss, including a crushing inning-ending double play by cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre with the bases loaded and the go-ahead run at first base. Beltre has been the biggest surprise of the early season struggles, going 4-for-34 with runners in scoring position. The Rangers as a team are batting .247 with runners in scoring position.

“We’re not doing a very good job with guys on base,” Magadan said. “We’re getting guys on but we’ve got guys pressing with men on base. We had a meeting about it. It didn’t pay off right away but I think we’re all on the same page. We have to have a pass-the-baton mentality, don’t feel you have to be the guy that does it."

It's not just on Beltre. The Rangers are 3-for-26 with runners in scoring position for the four losses. They had several opportunities in Thursday's games despite three hits with seven walks and a hit batter. But the Rangers couldn't get a clutch hit, especially in the final two innings.

"Approach-wise has been fine," manager Ron Washington said. "There's some guys up there you can say that are still having some rhythm trouble or sometimes chasing in situations where a maybe a walk would have been good for them. That's consistent for baseball."

Magadan wants his hitters to be patient at the plate.

“If you don’t get a good pitch to hit, have confidence that the guy behind you will get it done," Magadan said. "It’s a work in progress. We’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys. We just need to get them to relax and let their talent rise to the top.”

Other Rangers notes for Friday:

Antsy to end slump: Left fielder David Murphy hasn't started a game since Sunday in Minnesota against Twins right-hander starter Kevin Correia. He walked in the ninth inning of Thursday's game after entering the game as a defensive replacement for Jeff Baker.

Murphy has one hit in his last 15 at-bats. His average has been below .200 since he went 1-for-3 on opening day. It's been stuck at .176 as he waits to get back in the starting lineup, which will happen Saturday against John Lackey, unless he is scratched like Chicago's Jake Peavy was on Thursday.

"These are definitely numbers that are not fun to sit on," Murphy said. "Everything happens for a reason. I've used it as an opportunity to take a little break mentally and physically and to prepare for this next stretch."

Murphy said he is a hitter who thinks his way out of a slump rather than taking a lot of extra batting practice.

"I think about what I'm doing up there," Murphy said. "Everything starts with a thought."

Napoli speaks: Ex-Ranger Mike Napoli held court with the media before Friday's game and while he said he was excited to see his old teammates -- he gave Beltre a huge bear hug -- he wants to win for his new team the Red Sox.

He did admit it won't be the same as playing against his first team, the Los Angeles Angels, who Napoli crushed for two seasons in Texas.

"I don't think I have as much sports hate for the Rangers as I have for the Angels," Napoli said.

Poor baserunning: Mitch Moreland's out on the bases in Thursday's game was the latest mistake the Rangers have made in the last week. It's well known it's an area of the game that they pride themselves on being as good as any team in baseball.

Washington guaranteed that the Rangers will be seen as good base running team before this season is all said and done. And he wants his players to stay aggressive.

"I don't want a passive team," Washington said. "We just have to think a little bit and react to what you see."

Reminder for Saturday: Saturday's game is at 7:05 p.m. Some early versions of the Rangers schedule had an afternoon start time, but it's a 7:05 first pitch.