Found April 26, 2012 on Fox Sports Southwest:
ARLINGTON, Texas One sure way to keep from hitting the ball right at people is to hit it over the fence. That's the tactic the Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland took Wednesday night to break out of a slump. Moreland sent a blast 410 feet over the right field wall in the sixth inning of a 7-3 win over the Yankees. The homer was his second hit of the night to break out of a 3-for-27 nosedive. Moreland came into the game with a paltry .139 batting average after going 0-for-3 on Tuesday. His 2-for-3 performance Wednesday was the second four straight starts he will get against right-handers and could be a sign he is turning the corner. "It's a start," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We had an opportunity to get him some right-handers back-to-back coming out of the off-day tomorrow. He'll get a chance at two more. And hopefully he can get locked in." The slump-buster couldn't have come at a better time for Moreland as the murmurs about the Rangers' first base situation were beginning to grow louder. Although the Rangers don't lack for offense or power, first base is a hitter's position and Moreland knows he must produce to keep getting chances. "I just try to get in there when I get my opportunities and have some good at-bats, grind out my at-bats," Moreland said. "I felt great the last couple of games and it happened for me tonight." The timing is also good since Rangers prospect Mike Olt, by nature a third baseman, starting playing first base this week for Double-A Frisco. The Rangers have other first base options already in the major leagues, namely Mike Napoli and Michael Young. Being in a platoon situation is never ideal for a struggling player, so the opportunity to start four games in a row represents a major opportunity for Moreland. "It always helps being in there and playing," Moreland said. "At the same time, I've got to keep getting my work in in the cage and be ready when they need me." Moreland struggled with a wrist injury last season that required surgery in December. He showed signs of returning to his old form in spring training, then after getting off to a slow start he was slowed even further by an abscessed tooth on the recent road trip. Moreland downplayed the effect the tooth had. "Maybe just from the point of not getting to play much," Moreland said. "My tooth feels great now, but during the time it definitely wasn't the best feeling in the world. Lack of sleep and everything kind of had me dragging a little." Moreland woke up the Rangers Ballpark crowd with his homer to leadoff the bottom of the sixth. The longball gave the Rangers a 6-2 lead. "He's one of the threats in our lineup and tonight he proved it by giving us an insurance run," Washington said. "That was a big run he put on the board." With a chance to string several starts together, Moreland has an opportunity to prove he can be a more consistent threat. "I think if I keep playing the game and trying to go up there and hit the ball hard, then they're going to fall," Moreland said. Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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