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Broussard not platooned in night off

Broussard not platooned in night off

ARLINGTON -- Ben Broussard knew he would be taking a seat for the nightcap of Thursday's doubleheader against Baltimore. What was both refreshing and comforting for the Rangers' first baseman was that it was only a rest, not a requirement.

Broussard started Thursday's first game against Orioles right-hander Steve Trachsel, but sat in favor of switch-hitter Jason Botts when Baltimore started lefty Adam Loewen in Game 2. But lest that start any familiar fears that a platoon was breaking out, Rangers manager Ron Washington insisted that was not in the cards.

"If he stops hitting left-handers and it becomes a platoon situation, it will be because he created it, not me," Washington said. "I trust him. And, hopefully, that will give him some incentive to continue."

Indeed it will, Broussard assured. Labeled as a platoon or bench player for most of his six Major League seasons, the native Texan is thriving under Washington's intention to use him as everyday first baseman. Broussard entered Thursday having hit safely in five of his last six games and was leading the club in home runs (three) and RBI (eight).

Most importantly for his everyday status, he was batting .250 against both right-handers and left-handers. Broussard entered this season with a .275 average in 1,706 career at-bats against right-handers, but only a .227 mark in his sporadic 348 at-bats against lefties.

"I've never had it where a manager has said, 'I think he's going to do great against any pitcher,'" Broussard said. "This is the first time I've felt that, and it feels good. I don't have to worry so much about things I can't control. And when I've got the confidence of the manager like that, I feel like I can just trust my instincts and go. I'm excited."

Broussard, 31, is also excited by the chance to work this year with renowned Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

"He's so good at looking at your swing and working from that, rather than trying to make you into something else," Broussard said. "He's already made my swing tighter, more compact. He's made it so I don't have to think so much up there, but instead just get into position and see the ball."

Broussard went 0-for-4 in the season opener against tough Seattle ace Erik Bedard, then hit .300 over the next six games. That's been solid production from a guy batting seventh (twice) or ninth (six times) in the Rangers order. And it's what Washington expected after watching Broussard regularly handle the tough Oakland staff earlier this decade.

"He did pretty good against us there," said Washington, the former Athletics third-base coach. "And it didn't seem to matter, lefty or righty. And those were good pitchers like Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito.

"He's a gamer. I always thought he played a pretty good first base. Sometimes there are players you just like, and I liked him. He gives you a good at-bat."

And, perhaps for the first time in his career, maybe 500 of them this season.

Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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