No major changes expected in Ron Washington’s lineup for Game 3

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Things are looking somewhat bleak for the Rangers right now, but Ron Washington doesn’t have any major changes up his sleeve for Game 3 against Jonathan Sanchez on Saturday night.

According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Washington plans to roll out the same lineup he has used lately against left-handed pitching. This means we can probably expect Mitch Moreland to get the start over Jorge Cantu at first base, Jeff Francoeur to play right field and Bengie Molina to get the start behind the plate.

We’re dealing with a small sample size here, but the Rangers have collectively hit .306/.336/.485 with six homers and an 821 OPS in 134 at-bats against left-handed pitching so far during the postseason. Another lefty, Madison Bumgarner, is slated to start Game 4 on Sunday night. If the Rangers can score some runs against these southpaws like they are capable of doing, we could be talking about a very different series by Monday morning.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.