SEATTLE -- Jorge Cantu was back at first base on Saturday night with left-hander Jason Vargas on the mound for the Mariners. Cantu has been the Rangers' starting first baseman when the opposition throws a left-hander, but they have been facing nothing but right-handers lately.
This was Cantu's first start since Sept. 8, and the Rangers will face four straight right-handers after Saturday. Right-hander Doug Fister pitches for the Mariners on Sunday and the Angels are scheduled to go with right-handers Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren during a three-game series that begins on Monday in Anaheim.
"It feels weird," Cantu said. "I'm just happy to being playing. I've been preparing every day and trying to keep loose. Hopefully things will go well."
The Rangers need Cantu to get going. They feel a strong need to carry a right-handed-hitting first baseman in the playoffs, whether it's to go against left-handers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte with the Yankees or David Price with Tampa Bay.
But Cantu, who drove in 100 runs for the Marlins last year, went into Saturday's game with just 13 hits in 64 at-bats (.203) since being acquired at the Trade Deadline. He has a double and a triple, but has yet to hit a home run or drive in a run since the trade.
"It's been personally tough and challenging trying to stay focused and not lose my timing," Cantu said. "Which is very crucial. I don't want to have to worry about mechanics, just go up there, get it done and hit the ball hard. It's a different role and it's not the easiest thing after being used to playing every day. But at least I'm still getting to play."