Washington gives Moreland a shot against lefty

Washington gives Moreland a shot against lefty

ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland was in the Rangers' lineup on Saturday with left-hander Brian Duensing on the mound for the Twins. It's a rare start against a left-hander for Moreland, who swings from the left side.

Moreland -- who crushed a 463-foot three-run homer off Duensing in the second inning Saturday -- entered the game just 7-for-32 (.219) against left-handers. But he is hitting .342 (25-for-73) in 24 games since coming off the disabled list so manager Ron Washington went with him over Mike Olt, a right-handed hitter. Olt has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right heel, but was available off the bench.

"I want to let Moreland take his shot off a left-hander," Washington said. "It's nothing more than that. He's swinging the bat well."

Washington gave the same opportunity to David Murphy and it has worked well. Murphy is 20-for-50 (.400) off left-handers and has worked his way into a full-time role. Washington is not ready to commit to giving Moreland the same opportunity, but he was in the lineup on Saturday.

"I'm not nailing it down, I just put it in the coffin and left the lid off," Washington said. "If he and Murphy go out and hit everybody and hit the way they're hitting right now, it will make me a genius. But I just wanted to throw Moreland a bone and give him a shot against a lefty."

There's another possible factor. With some of the club's best hitters eligible for free agency in the next two offseasons, there will come a point when Moreland will need to take on a more prominent role in the lineup. Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli are eligible for free agency after this season, while Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Murphy are eligible after 2013.

"If the landscape changes and [Moreland] is still here, of course he has to step up," Washington said. "I don't think it's a big deal."

In his career, Moreland is hitting .227 with a .291 on-base percentage and a .313 slugging percentage against left-handers. He is hitting .278 with a .345 on-base percentage and a .486 slugging percentage against right-handers.

"I just go out and play hard every day, it doesn't matter if it's a left-hander or right-hander," Moreland said. "I do what I can to help the team win."