ARLINGTON -- As Texas and Seattle took batting practice Monday, the outfield thermometer read 101 degrees. This is the supposed "home-field advantage" that welcomed the Rangers back to Arlington for the first game of a season-long 11-game homestand. In the clubhouse, David Murphy slurped down the Rangers' defense strategy for the heat -- a Pedialyte Freezer Pop. "I see [Ian] Kinsler snacking on them all the time," Murphy said. "They taste good."
The Rangers are blessed and cursed to be playing 35 of their final 57 games at home -- in the dead heat of the Texas summer. While opponents will come to Texas and have to put up with the heat for only three or four days, the Rangers will have to play through it for six, seven, or in this case, 11 days at a time. Nevertheless, the Rangers are heading into this homestand confident that the heat will work in their favor. "Every day we have to go out and play, no matter how hot it is," Josh Hamilton said. "[Manager Ron] Washington knows how to handle us. It's very similar to where I grew up in North Carolina. I grew up playing in it. I'm just excited to be back home; it feels like forever since we were here last. I personally feel very comfortable playing at home in this ballpark." In addition to their freezer pops, Murphy said the keys to beating the heat were to eat well, rest and pounding the eight-ounce bottles of water the team keeps in the clubhouse. While eight bottles a day is the recommended dosage, Murphy said he tries to drink twice that amount to stay hydrated. None of these methods are new to the Rangers, but the heat could take visiting teams by surprise. "We're used to it, so we can use it to our advantage, because opponents definitely aren't used to it," Murphy said. "We know what to expect. But both teams still have to play the game and settle it on the field." Washington will also do what he can to keep his players from overexerting themselves before games. The Rangers took batting practice on the field before Monday's game, but Washington said he may have the team hit indoors for the remainder of the series. However, as far as the lineup goes, Washington plans to throw his best nine players onto the field for every game of the homestand. "That's my decision, as well as the players'," said Washington in regard to where the team takes batting practice. "I don't want to make them do something they don't want to do, and they're not dumb. I'm going to try to win. This won't be one of those babying things. This is what they call the dog days."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.