Rangers seek production from first base

Rangers seek production from first

SEATTLE -- Manager Ron Washington, desperate to get some run production from first base, used Frank Catalanotto there on Tuesday against the Mariners.

Rangers first basemen went into Tuesday's game with a combined .546 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), the lowest for any American League team. They also had just 13 RBIs in 33 games from the position.

"I certainly expected a lot more production than I'm getting out of it," Washington said. "Sometimes you get off to a bad start, and my first basemen have gotten off to a bad start."

Catalanotto had made two appearances at first base prior to Tuesday, but this was his first time as a starter. It's the only place right now where Washington can get him in the lineup.

Catalanotto was supposed to be the Rangers' designated hitter this year, but Milton Bradley has taken over that spot. Bradley was supposed to play right field, but knee and hamstring issues have limited him to just seven starts out there.

Bradley started in right field on Monday but couldn't get to two fly balls in the second inning. Both fell in for singles and ended up costing Kevin Millwood a run.

"He misplayed a couple of balls, but other guys have misplayed balls," Washington said. "I'm not going to beat on that. I know that if he's 100 percent, those balls are in his back pocket."

Washington admitted that Bradley is limited to no more than one or two games in the outfield per week for now. That may change as the season progresses, but the regular outfield consists of Brandon Boggs, Josh Hamilton and David Murphy right now.

That leaves Catalanotto competing with Chris Shelton and Ben Broussard for time at first base. Catalanotto and Broussard are left-handed hitters, and it may become difficult for the Rangers to carry both on the roster, especially when Marlon Byrd is ready to come off the disabled list.

It's tough to carry two left-handed hitters who only fit into the lineup at first base, especially when you only have a four-man bench.

"I can't answer that right now," Washington said.

Broussard, who started just three of the Rangers' last eight games, is hitting .159 with three home runs and eight RBIs. His last RBI came one month ago, on April 6 against the Angels.

"I want to play, but I understand they have to try different things," Broussard said. "I'm just trying to be ready every day. My swing is getting better and better. I know I'll be back in there. You get one good game, then another and all of a sudden you're hitting .250 and you forget your slow start."

The question is when Broussard will get another chance. Washington is committed to Shelton against left-handed pitchers, and Erik Bedard is on the mound for the Mariners on Wednesday. Washington is not sure when Broussard will be back in the lineup.

"That's a tough one," Washington said. "Very tough. I haven't forgotten about him. He's a guy I wanted over here. I'm just trying to get some offense out of that position. I'll get Ben back in there."

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