SEATTLE -- Former Astros catcher Brad Ausmus will coach Israel's entry in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He believes the team can be a contender if he can recruit Jewish big league ballplayers.He has his eye on Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler and pitcher Scott Feldman. Both have Jewish heritage and are eligible to play for Israel if they so desire. "This is the first I've heard about it," Kinsler said. "I don't know how I feel about it since I haven't been presented with anything." Kinsler, a two-time All-Star, is from Tucson, Ariz., and would seem to be a strong candidate to play for Team USA when the third Classic is held next spring. "I would definitely like to play for Team USA if that's possible," Kinsler said. "If not, I will consider whatever else comes up." Feldman won 17 games for the Rangers in 2009 and was named Jewish co-Most Valuable Player along with Ryan Braun by Jewish Major Leaguers Inc. But he is wary of trying to pitch in the Classic. "I don't know if it's the greatest idea for a pitcher to play in that," Feldman said. "If I got asked, I would think about it. I don't know if it's a good idea. Pitchers can get hurt anytime. It would stink getting hurt doing something like that. We'll see how many innings I pitch this year and how my arm feels and if I get asked."
In homerless funk, Hamilton finds fix for swing
SEATTLE -- Josh Hamilton went into Tuesday having not hit a home run in his last nine games. His trouble has been not swinging at pitches in the strike zone and instead chasing bad ones outside or in the dirt."Trust me, I've had this conversation with a lot of people ... mainly my wife," Hamilton said. Hamilton went to work on Monday trying to fix the problem. Joey Prebynski, one of the Rangers' advanced scouts, filmed Hamilton taking batting practice. Hamilton and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh then studied the session and noticed Hamilton wasn't staying square at the plate but instead was closing his stance too soon. That keeps him from getting a good look and having good "pitch recognition." "It's amazing how one little thing can impact a lot of other things," Hamilton said. "That made everything speed up. A pitch that was 90 mph looked like 100." During his last nine games, Hamilton was hitting .290 with six RBIs but also had a .323 slugging percentage and eight strikeouts in 31 at-bats. "He's not making the other pitcher throw the ball in the zone," manager Ron Washington said. "I don't think the opposing pitchers have been that great. I see them doing the same things they've always been doing. Until Josh stops swinging at bad pitches, why throw him a strike? "Sometimes Josh gets in a funk. Just like he has been swinging at pitches out of the zone the past few days, he could start crunching the ball the next few days. If Josh stops swinging at what he has been swinging at, they'll start throwing him pitches in the zone." Added Washington: "Don't worry about Josh. He'll be fine."
Old pals Beltre, Felix keep up friendly banter
SEATTLE -- There was a point during Monday's game when Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez screamed at Adrian Beltre when he was at the plate. Hernandez screamed that he was going to strike out Beltre with his changeup.Beltre yelled back, "I'll spit on your changeup." And then he spit. They are old friends from when they played together on the Mariners and they go after it all the time. "We're always talking smack," Beltre said. "It starts months before, weeks before we play ... the day before the game. This morning he texted me talking smack and I texted him back talking smack. "He told me's going to dance on the mound if he strikes me out. Last year when I went deep off him, I was talking smack running around the bases. He took it like a man. If he strikes me out and dances on the mound, I'll take it like a man. I'm sure he'll enjoy it."
Off-day won't affect Texas' rotation for weekend
SEATTLE -- The Rangers have an off-day on Thursday but will not use it to alter their rotation or give anybody extra rest. After Scott Feldman pitches on Wednesday, the Rangers will go with Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish this weekend against the Blue Jays.Matt Harrison is scheduled to pitch again Monday against the Mariners. Feldman's spot comes up on Tuesday, but the Rangers have yet to commit to him beyond his start on Wednesday. "We haven't sat down and talked about it yet," manager Ron Washington said. The spot came open when Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list with a sprained right elbow. Feldman will be making his third start this season, but he was a 17-game winner as a starter in 2009 before spending almost two years dealing with knee problems. He has been used mainly as a reliever this season and last year but still harbors hopes of becoming a starter again. "I'm going to take it one start at a time," Feldman said. "If I stay in there and do a good job, maybe they'll keep giving me the ball. I want to do well but I don't want to make it into something it's not. If I go out and pitch well, everything else will take care of itself." Feliz is expected to be out until at least the All-Star break.
With Scott Feldman going into the rotation, the Rangers are without a true long reliever in their bullpen. Manager Ron Washington said that's not a concern right now, but Yoshinori Tateyama, Robbie Ross and Alexi Ogando are all capable of pitching at least two innings in an outing. Mitch Moreland, batting ninth, had both of the extra-base hits for the Rangers on Monday night. He had a double in the third and a home run in the eighth. It's the fifth time the Rangers have had multiple extra-base hits in a game and all came from the ninth spot in the lineup. The others were Ted Kubiak (1972), Jerry Browne (1988), Jeff Kunkel (1989) and Travis Metcalf (2007). The Rangers are one of five nominees in the Sports Team of the Year category for the 2012 Sports Business Awards, presented by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. The Rangers join the Boston Bruins (NHL), Dayton Dragons (Minor League Baseball/Midwest League), Sporting Kansas City (MLS) and Stewart-Haas Racing (NASCAR) as the five finalists for the award. The winner will be announced Wednesday in New York.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.