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Vlad unable to shake playoff struggles

Vlad unable to shake playoff struggles

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ARLINGTON -- Rangers designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero struck out three times in Sunday night's 4-0 loss to the Giants in Game 4 of the World Series, and he looked bad doing it.

Things hardly went better for Guerrero during Monday's 3-1 Rangers loss in Game 5 of the World Series, in which the designated hitter went hitless across four at-bats to finish the Fall Classic with a batting average of .071. Sunday was the first three-K effort in Guerrero's 43-game postseason career.

Manager Ron Washington expected the performance of Guerrero -- the Rangers' cleanup hitter and producer of a .300 batting average, 29 home runs and 115 RBIs during the regular season -- to change in a hurry entering Game 5.

"Some days he don't look good," Washington said. "But once again, he's one swing away."

This postseason, Guerrero hit .220 with no home runs, three doubles and six RBIs. Add in there a two-error performance when he was forced to play right field in the Series opener as well as an 0-for-1 line on steal attempts, and this qualifies as an extended period of subpar production.

"I think we've seen that at some point during the course of the year, too," Washington said. "But he's my big gun and I'm going to let him stand up there and hack."

Guerrero has completed a one-year contract that guaranteed him $6.5 million. There is a $1 million buyout if Texas declines, and none if Guerrero declines. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels called Guerrero a "first-ballot Hall of Famer" and said the club is not overemphasizing Guerrero's postseason in its decision whether to bring him back next season.

"There were some that doubted him coming off last year," Daniels said, referring to Guerrero's injury-plagued season with the Angels in 2009 -- the first time in 11 years he did not hit at least .300 or knock at least 25 home runs. "I think he's proved some of those people wrong, had a very good year for us. And obviously, we'll look at it all in context, but we're not going to evaluate him on the two weeks of games when he's had -- whatever it is, a 10-, 15-year career of excellent performance."

The Giants pitched Guerrero well, but Washington doesn't necessarily believe they followed a blueprint.

"He's a free swinger," Washington said. "There's no special way to pitch him. He's going to swing at your stuff. Sometimes he's going to catch it. Sometimes he's not."

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