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Notes: Rangers looking for big hits

Notes: Rangers looking for big hits

MINNEAPOLIS -- This is what Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is dealing with.

The Rangers starting lineup on Saturday had just two players hitting better than .260 -- shortstop Michael Young and outfielder Marlon Byrd. Young was the only player with more than 43 RBIs and second baseman Ian Kinsler was the only player with more than seven home runs.

Things aren't quite what they used to be in the Rangers lineup as the club looks to the future with young sluggers like Nelson Cruz, Jason Botts and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. But the Rangers, going into Saturday's game, had a higher on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) in August than they did in July, before they made major changes.

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The Rangers have a .728 OPS in August as opposed to a .687 OPS in July. The biggest problem for them right now is coming through with runners in scoring position. Since July 27, they are hitting just .199 a a team with runners in scoring position.

"I'm just trying to get these kids to relax," Jaramillo said. "That's the last thing that comes as a hitter. You see the talent and you see how good they did in the Minor Leagues. But when they get to the big leagues, you triple what they're feeling. You have to get them back to trusting themselves and feeling comfortable. It will come."

Jaramillo, who enjoys a reputation for being one of the best hitting coaches in the game, said he doesn't see this as any bigger of a challenge than previous years.

"Every year is a challenge," Jaramillo said. "We've always had young guys or older guys that were trying to help get turned around. The thing you have to do is be there for them, be positive and encourage them; make them believe they can hit. It's a process. They're not up there trying to make outs.

"The best thing about them is their makeup. They're all hard workers and they don't have big egos. They let you know what's going on, what they're feeling. That means they're secure in a lot of areas. That's a good thing. When they let me know what's going on, that's when I can help them."

Looking for Biggio: Second baseman Ian Kinsler is proving to be a better hitter at the top of the order than at the bottom. Kinsler went into Saturday's game hitting .315 in either Nos. 1 or 2 spots in the lineup and .207 when hitting sixth or lower.

"I like it up there," Kinsler said. "I feel like I'm more involved in the game, and having Michael Young hitting behind you means a few more balls down the middle of the plate."

Being a top-of-the-order guy is a goal for Kinsler. The player he wants to emulate most is Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio, who is retiring after this season and will eventually be on his way to the Hall of Fame.

"He brings so many good things to the game," Kinsler said. "He's a very good defensive player, he steals bases, he walks a lot and he's hit by a lot of pitches. He's a gamer. That's what I want to be like."

Eyre goes on DL: The Rangers, to make room for Kameron Loe on the active roster, have placed pitcher Willie Eyre on the disabled list with stiffness in his right elbow.

The problem came up after Eyre gave up four runs against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday. But the injury is considered minor and the Rangers expect him to be ready to go by Sept. 1.

"Without a doubt," manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't send out a healthy arm not knowing when Willie will be ready to pitch."

Throwing disappoints Blalock: Hank Blalock, having worked so hard on his footwork, was hoping to see better results in a pregame workout on Saturday. But Blalock, on the disabled list because of shoulder surgery, still doesn't like the way he is throwing from third to first base.

"I want the ball to carry better," Blalock said. "It wasn't doing that. I'm a perfectionist and I've worked hard on my mechanics and I want to put it all together instead of it happening half the time. It's frustrating to me."

Washington said Blalock is being too hard on himself and added, "Hank is going to be fine. That's me talking from my experience as a teacher of infield defense. We're going to put it all together the next few days when we're in Baltimore."

He said it: "As far as I'm concerned, he was Mr. Minnesota. Kirby Puckett, once you got to know him, he was special. That's all I can say. He was special." -- Washington, on his former Twins roommate

Friday's Minor stars: Gold: Pitcher Michael Schlact is 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA since his promotion to Double-A Frisco after a 9-2 victory over Tulsa. He allowed one run on five hits in six innings.

Silver: Armando Galarraga won his first game with the Triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks in a 4-3 victory over Memphis. He allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and three walks while striking out eight.

Bronze: Third baseman John Whittleman went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and a home run in Bakersfield's 7-5 victory over Rancho Cucamonga.

Briefly: The Rangers are waiting for the Commissioner's Office to approve their summer international signings. Among the best are Dominican shortstop Wilson Suero and from Venezuela: shortstop Tomas Telis, outfielder Edward Ceballo and pitcher Martin Perez. ... The Rangers have made no official announcement on Tuesday's starter against the Orioles, listing it as undecided.

Up next: Kevin Millwood pitches against two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana in the final of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday at the Metrodome.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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