Kouzmanoff too hot for a day off
ARLINGTON -- Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has done an admirable job of filling in for Adrian Beltre, hitting .395 with five doubles, two homers and nine RBIs since making his Rangers debut on April 9. His 10-game hitting streak to start his Rangers career is tied for the second longest in club history behind Fred Manrique's 11-game stretch in 1989.
In fact, Kouzmanoff has been so impressive at the plate in his brief tenure with Texas that manager Ron Washington hasn't found a way to give him a day off yet, though he'd like to.
"I already tried to do that after game number four, I wanted to give him off, but he had such a big game, I couldn't," Washington said. "And then after game number five, I wanted to give him off. He had a big game and I couldn't. Then all of a sudden I can't. I'm just going to ride him. When I see where he's looking bad or he's not getting to pitches, then I'll give him that day…. But right now, he's playing and right now he's a big part of our lineup, so it's not easy to yank him out of there."
Kouzmanoff was once again in the lineup Sunday, starting and batting fifth for the ninth day in a row.
Kouzmanoff, 32, has traveled a unique path back to the Major Leagues after two injury-plagued seasons in the Minors. He had played for four Minor League teams since his last MLB service for the Rockies in 2011. At one point the next year, Kouzmanoff was sent down to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, but he worked his way back to Triple-A and was signed by the Rangers as a Minor League free agent in December 2013.
He had a .370/.443/.593 slash line in Spring Training but was the last man cut before Opening Day. He went to Triple-A Round Rock, where he again hit well (.313 in 16 at-bats) and came to the Rangers when Beltre went down.
Washington said a resurgence like Kouzmanoff's doesn't come easy.
"It takes a lot of confidence, it takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of dedication, and it takes having some success," Washington said. "Once you start having that success, and success comes from confidence, then you begin to realize: I've ridden this bicycle before."