(author's note: For those who don't know me, I'm a writer over at Mavs Moneyball. Quick plug: If you've checked out MMB in the past and been disappointed, I encourage you to give us another shot. The coverage provided over the past few months has been the best the site has ever had. Anyway, I'm an aspiring sports writer, starting college next month at the University of North Texas with a journalism major. I live in Round Rock, right down the street from the Express' stadium, so I thought catching up on some triple-A baseball would be a great way to gain experience and feed my passion for the Rangers. I was able to do this once before, focusing on Martin Perez in that report. I'm hoping on returning tomorrow night to catch Neftali Feliz's abbreviated start, and see Moreland play one more time.)
Since being sent to the DL on June 22th, Mitch Moreland has been keeping a bit of a low profile. No wonder, considering he's been occupied with baby preparations. See, he and his wife are expecting a baby boy this Wednesday back in Dallas. Not to worry, though, because stressing over whether Nathaniel or Robert is a better name or painting the spare bedroom hasn't prevented him from doing all he can to rehab from the strained left hamstring he suffered in San Diego. In his first action since the injury, Moreland started at first base and took three plate appearances before being pulled in the 7th inning as planned.
As is to be expected, his timing was a bit off. He had two swings and misses in his first at bat, but battled back to force the count full before getting just underneath a drive right at the center fielder. He started off with another swing and miss his second time round, but lined a pitch the opposite way for a single on an 0-2 count. In the third at bat, he struck out looking on five pitches.
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to chat with him after the game. He never got a chance to really run the bases in the game, as he was stranded at first the one time he reached base, but Mitch said he was able to run the bases with the Rangers in Anaheim over the weekend and felt 100%. He's expected to start again this Tuesday and take another three plate appearances, before heading back to the Dallas area for his son's birth. He has yet to talk to Ron Washington, but hopes to return to action on Friday against the White Sox. The Rangers have an off day this Thursday.
I wanted to get on both knees and beg him to return because Michael Young's defense at 1B was beginning to make my eyes bleed, but I felt it would be unprofessional. I opted for a firm hand-shake. Sorry if that disappoints you guys.
As for the rest of the Rangers, there are a few people to note. Headed into the sixth inning, Chad Bell had only allowed four base runners on a three hits and a walk. A leadoff single could have been navigated around, but he left a slider up to Wil Myers, a top five prospect in the Royals organization, which was deposited way up in the home run porch in left. He was hit on the leg with a comebacker in the seventh, and was relieved by recently demoted Yoshinori Tateyama a batter later. Yoshi got one batter to ground out, but threw up a beach ball to Irving Falu (great baseball name, by the way) that was drilled for a double and added two more earned runs to Bell's line. He did pick up five strikeouts and seven swinging strikes to just one walk through his 6+ innings, which is certainly a good sign for the pitcher who projects as a reliever.
I missed Julio Borbon's fourth at bat while speaking with Moreland, but his first three totaled six pitches in all.
The Express lost, 4-1, but Mitch Moreland certainly won. In a span of a week, he should be back from injury playing with the Rangers and will have a brand new baby boy. And seriously, Mitch...I've never missed slightly above average first base defense so much in my life.