Banister: Rangers' lineup priority is winning

Banister: Rangers' lineup priority is winning

KANSAS CITY -- Developing young players like Joey Gallo and keeping veteran players fresh were factors in manager Jeff Banister writing out his lineup in the first half.

Those are now taking a backseat as the Rangers head into the second half in the middle of the American League Wild Card chase.

"In the first half, you try to rob days and that gives you the opportunity [for veterans] to play extended games in the second half," Banister said. "There is a wear-down effect playing every single game in the first half. You get to this point, it's all hands on deck and win baseball games. We've kind of put ourselves in this position."

Gallo played just about every day in the first half when he wasn't bothered by his left leg. He was out of the starting lineup on Sunday because Gallo is 0-for-7 with seven strikeouts previously vs. Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy.

"There is always the future aspect of developing players," Banister said. "But where we are right now, there is an urgency on winning ballgames."

Left field continues to be on variable and right now it has developed into a platoon situation with Drew Robinson facing right-handers and Delino DeShields starting against left-handers. Nomar Mazara will also play left field in games in which Shin-Soo Choo is in right field and Mike Napoli is the designated hitter.

Banister said Gallo is no longer an option in left field because of the sore hamstring muscle behind his left knee.

"He could go out there for a couple of innings, but I'm not sure how much I want to push him," Banister said.

Lucroy makes an adjustment
Banister said catcher Jonathan Lucroy has made an adjustment behind the plate that could help with his defense. Banister said it showed up on Saturday when Lucroy caught eight innings in a 1-0 win over the Royals.

"We noticed he was a little deep behind the hitter," Banister said. "He made a little adjustment and that seemed to be a huge key in the receiving aspect. A big part for me is his mobility and how he is moving ... his lateral movement. He is moving better behind the plate."

Lucroy started the Rangers' winning rally in the ninth inning with a leadoff single before being replaced by Gallo as a pinch-runner.

Rangers beat
• Right-hander Keone Kela, who has been sidelined since June 27 with a sore right shoulder, had his first bullpen session on Saturday and came out of it well. The Rangers haven't yet decided if Kela will have another throwing session later this week in Baltimore or be activated on Monday.

Jake Diekman, who has been sidelined for the entire season while recovering from multiple abdominal surgeries, continues to throw off flat ground with the hope of throwing off a mound for the first time on Thursday in Baltimore.

• The Rangers open a four-game series with the Orioles on Monday. That's the only American League team they have yet to play.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.