June 14th, 2013

Ian Kinsler: a RoughRider again

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Kinsler’s second at-bat on Thursday night

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Thursday’s lineup card

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, rehabbing from a right intercostal muscle strain, made his first rehab appearance last night, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, serving as the designated hitter and batting leadoff.

In the first inning, he struck out looking on a borderline fastball on the outside corner from Corpus Christi starter Nick Tropeano. He flew out to shallow right field in the third. In his third trip to the plate, it was shades of the first, as he was called out again on strikes on a similar pitch near the outside corner. He made good contact against reliever Bobby Doran in the eighth, lining out to left fielder Michael Burgess to complete his night.

Originally expected to make his return to the Rangers lineup in early June, it was found that Kinsler also had a stress reaction in his ribcage as well, adding a couple weeks to his recovery time.

Now that time has come. Kinsler is expected to play in the field, at second base, tonight and tomorrow for the ‘Riders, and if all goes well, he will return to the Ranger lineup on Sunday. And they sure could use their spark plug.

The Rangers are just 4-8 in June and the offense is scoring an average of three runs per game in the 12 contests this month. Texas was 27-14 before Kinsler sat out of a start with the first pains in his rib cage. Since then, Texas is 11-14 and scoring 4.12 runs per game, and that includes three extra-innings games (one that took 18 innings). They scored 4.9 runs a game with him in the lineup.

For some perspective the #15 and #16 ranked MLB clubs in runs per game have scored 4.27 and 4.22 respectively. The Kinsler-powered Rangers would currently rank sixth in the majors, while the Kinsler-less squad would check in at 19th in runs per game.

For ‘Riders fans, Kinsler is a familiar face. This is the third season Kinsler has rehabbed with the club (first stints coming in 2009 and 2010). In 2004, the second baseman was still playing as a shortstop, and exclusively so, in the minors. He split his ’04 campaign between Low-A Clinton and Double-A Frisco (skipping Advanced-A Stockton). He led the Midwest League in batting average (.402), doubles (30), RBI (52) and on-base percentage (.465) before his promotion to the RoughRiders in June.

The 22-year-old proved ready for Double-A pitching:

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Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2004 22 Frisco 71 326 277 51 83 21 1 9 46 7 4 32 47 .300 .400 .480
2009 27 Frisco 2 9 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .222 .000
2010 28 Frisco 6 23 19 3 5 0 1 0 6 2 0 2 3 .263 .348 .368
2013 31 Frisco 1 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000
AA (4 seasons) 80 362 307 55 88 21 2 9 52 9 4 35 53 .287 .388 .456
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2013.

In his first week in Frisco he clubbed a home run off Andy Pettitte, making a rehab start for the Astros for then Double-A Houston affiliate Round Rock (now the Rangers Triple-A club). He earned Texas League Player of the week honors that week and was the Rangers Minor League Player of the Month in June. At season’s end he was named Texas Rangers Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year.

At Triple-A the following season, the Rangers converted Kinsler to second base, he clubbed 23 home runs and hit .274 against Pacific Coast League pitching. In 2006, he broke camp with the big league club, and the rest, as they say, is history.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: ungodly shota hard line drive
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Kinsler’s 2004 season with the RoughRiders

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