Rangers willing to stick with Smoak

Rangers willing to stick with Smoak

ARLINGTON -- Justin Smoak has been struggling at the plate, but manager Ron Washington keeps putting him in the lineup.

Smoak, a switch-hitter, was in the lineup on Wednesday for the 26th straight game since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Smoak went into Wednesday's game with five hits in his last 33 at-bats, dropping his average to .181.

"I see a guy who sometimes hits into bad luck, and I see a guy who sometimes gets outside himself," Washington said. "I see him getting too aggressive in situations. At times, he'll give you a great at-bat and sometimes, he gets too aggressive. That's youth.

"But we've been winning a lot of games with him in the lineup. Talk about the positives. He draws walks. He continues to turn himself into a not-too-bad of a first baseman."

Washington said he is thinking about giving Smoak a day off and it might be in the next two days. The Rangers face left-handed starters in Brian Matusz on Thursday and Ted Lilly on Friday. Smoak, despite being a switch-hitter, is 1-for-25 against left-handers so far.

Washington said that if Smoak gets a game off, Joaquin Arias will start at first base. Arias has never played first base at the Major League level, but worked there at Oklahoma City while he was on the disabled list earlier this month.

"Joaquin has worked his tail off to become a good first baseman and he's shown we can trust him there," Washington said.