DETROIT -- The Rangers went into Saturday's game against the Tigers with their No. 2 hitters batting a collective .226 on the season, with a .275 on-base percentage and .303 slugging percentage. All three figures were the lowest for that spot in the batting order in the American League.
So manager Ron Washington decided to use Leonys Martin in that spot for the first time this season on Saturday against right-hander Max Scherzer. Martin had been batting at the bottom of the order, but Washington dropped David Murphy into the No. 9 spot. Murphy and Elvis Andrus have been used the most at the No. 2 spot behind Ian Kinsler this season. Andrus batted sixth on Saturday.
"I'm just trying something, that's all," Washington said. "I'm just hoping Leonys can spark us, along with Kinsler."
Martin can bunt for a hit, but he's not adept at dropping sacrifice bunts or executing the hit-and-run. Those are two talents that Washington looks for in a No. 2 hitter, but Martin is, at least, hot, having entered Saturday hitting .357 in his last 24 games.
"It's not a big deal. ... It's a change in the lineup, but my approach doesn't change," Martin said. "I've hit first and I've hit second before in my career, so it's not a big deal."
When the Rangers signed Martin as an amateur free agent two years ago, he was projected as developing into a top-of-the-order hitter, but the Rangers don't see him there yet.
Martin has 18 stolen bases but just 15 walks in 244 plate appearances -- that's one walk per 16.27 plate appearances. By comparison, Kinsler averages one walk every 10.64 plate appearances. Oakland's Coco Crisp leads all AL leadoff hitters, with a walk every 8.57 plate appearances.
Washington doesn't know if Martin is capable of being a leadoff hitter at this point in his development.
"Right now he's still learning," Washington said. "After he gets a few years under his belt, we'll know. Right now he's out there surviving as best he can."
Ortiz earns Cabrera's respect
DETROIT -- Rookie left-hander Joseph Ortiz faced fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera for the first time on Friday night, and struck out his countryman with a 2-2 changeup.
Cabrera responded by yelling, "Wow!" and smiling at Ortiz.
It was a thrilling moment for the reliever.
"It's a gesture of respect," Ortiz said. "In Venezuela, any time you strike a guy out, it's a gesture of respect. It's a wonderful thing to receive a gesture like that from a hitter of his stature. It tells you what kind of guy he is when he gives respect to a guy like me."
Ortiz met Cabrera last year while playing winter ball in Venezuela.
"He told me I could be in the big leagues soon," said Ortiz, who was called up on Thursday and is in his third tour with the Rangers. He threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday, lowering his ERA to 4.50.
After throwing BP, Lewis ready for rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Right-hander Colby Lewis threw 46 pitches of batting practice on Saturday at Comerica Park, and the next step is a return to the Minor Leagues for a rehab assignment.
"It was a lot better today, that's for sure," Lewis said. "I had a lot better carry on my fastball, and when that happens, my other pitches have good bite. My curveball had real good bite."
The Rangers are planning to send Lewis to Double-A Frisco on Wednesday. It will be the third time he has been sent on assignment, but the previous two times, he was shut down because of some inflammation in his elbow and triceps. Lewis, who underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon on July 27 of last year, hasn't pitched since May 25, for Triple-A Round Rock.
"I just need to go out and get it right before I can come back and be a part of this team," he said. "Ultimately, that's what I want to do, but I don't know if I'll be much help if I don't get right."
The Rangers already have Alexi Ogando on a rehab assignment. Ogando, who is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, is scheduled to make his third start on Thursday for Round Rock and throw 95 pitches. If that goes well, he could be activated on July 23 and pitch against the Yankees at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Rangers' rotation in flux with Grimm, Darvish hurting
DETROIT -- Right-hander Justin Grimm was still feeling some stiffness in his forearm on Saturday after having to exit Friday's game against the Tigers in the fourth inning. His uncertainty is one reason why the Rangers haven't set their rotation for after the All-Star break.
Grimm is getting treatment and may try to throw on Sunday. If that doesn't go well, he'll likely be examined further by Dr. Keith Meister during or immediately after the break.
Yu Darvish, who is on the disabled list with a strained trapezius in his right shoulder, rejoined the Rangers on Saturday but did not resume throwing. Instead he limited his work to running and light exercises. Darvish is planning to join outfielder Nelson Cruz and reliever Joe Nathan for the All-Star Game festivities in New York next week even though he is unable to pitch in the game.
• Manny Ramirez hit his second home run for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday night. He went 3-for-5 and hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth in Round Rock's 7-6 win over Omaha.
• Outfielder Craig Gentry, who is on the disabled list with a fractured left hand, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Sunday. Jeff Baker, who is on the DL with a sprained right thumb, will stay with the Rangers on Sunday to continue taking batting practice, but he should join Gentry over the next few days.
• Adrian Beltre's 13-game hitting streak came to an end on Friday, when he went 0-for-4.
• Washington isn't happy with his team's inability to drop sacrifice bunts but said that the Rangers aren't the only ones having that problem.
Said Washington: "I've never seen such lousy bunting. I'm not talking about just my team. It's everywhere."
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.