BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Lucroy was the Rangers' starting catcher for the fourth consecutive game Tuesday. This is the first time Lucroy started four consecutive games since a five-game stretch, April 14-18.That streak came back when Lucroy was the Rangers undisputed No. 1 catcher and Robinson Chirinos was his backup. The
BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Lucroy was the Rangers' starting catcher for the fourth consecutive game Tuesday. This is the first time Lucroy started four consecutive games since a five-game stretch, April 14-18.
That streak came back when Lucroy was the Rangers undisputed No. 1 catcher and Robinson Chirinos was his backup. The situation wasn't as clear-cut in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break, when the two began sharing the position more equally.
Lucroy's four straight starts come at a crucial time for the Rangers, who are trying to stay afloat in the American League Wild Card race as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches. General manager Jon Daniels made it clear that how the Rangers play in the next two weeks could determine their strategy at the Deadline.
But the stretch also comes at a time when Major League sources confirm the Rangers have told other clubs Lucroy is available by trade. The Rangers aren't intent on dealing him away but willing to move him for immediate bullpen help or young starting pitching.
Lucroy's trade value has diminished from last season, when the Rangers had to trade three excellent prospects to the Brewers to acquire him and reliever Jeremy Jeffress.
Lucroy finished last season hitting .292 with 24 home runs, 81 RBIs, a .355 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage in 142 games. Through 68 games this season, he is hitting .258 with four home runs, 26 RBIs, a .303 on-base percentage and a .365 slugging percentage.
The Rangers may be trying to showcase Lucroy in the next couple of weeks as a way to highlight his trade value, although such an ulterior motive in determining the daily lineup would seem inconsistent with their stated goal of trying to win every game and compete for an AL Wild Card spot.
"This group of players, we need to go out and win with this group," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We believe in these guys and this is our first real opportunity to play with this group of guys. I know our front office is doing their due diligence on where we are and what we might need. The job I have been asked to do is manage this group and go out and win with this group of players."
Lucroy said he is not worried about trade rumors and otherwise declined to discuss the situation.
If the Rangers trade Lucroy, they would call up left-handed-hitting Brett Nicholas, who is hitting .314 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 65 games at Triple-A Round Rock.
Chirinos is hitting .220 with 12 home runs, 25 RBIs, a .309 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage going into Tuesday's game. He was 2-for-19 in seven games in July.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.