Rios joins Rangers, to start Saturday
HOUSTON (AP) - Alex Rios has moved from one of the worst teams in the American League to one of the best, and he couldn't be happier about it.
Rios, who was acquired by Texas from the Chicago White Sox on Friday, joined the Rangers on Saturday and was inserted into the lineup against the Houston Astros batting sixth and playing right field.
"It's an exciting move, it is a refreshing change for myself, for my career,'' Rios said. "It's something that you as a player look forward to, you want to go deep into the playoffs and win it. I believe we have that chance here. I believe we have a team here that is actually contending.''
Rios will help the Rangers deal with the loss of Nelson Cruz, who was suspended for the final 50 games of the regular season in Major League baseball's Biogenesis investigation.
Rios entered Saturday night's game hitting .277 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.
The White Sox are last in the AL-Central and have the second-worst record in the AL behind Houston. A recent surge by the Rangers has put them in first place in the AL-West.
The 32-year-old Rio has played for the White Sox since 2009 after starting his career in Toronto in 2004. He has never appeared in the postseason. He said playing a team out of contention makes things more difficult.
"It's tough because obviously, you want to win, and when you go out to the field without motivation, it makes it so much harder to focus the stuff that you are supposed to do without thinking,'' he said. "I think a little bit of pressure is a good thing when you are in a run, and you have that little bit of pressure, it's good for every ballplayer.''
Cruz was hitting .269 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs before his suspension. While the Rangers certainly need production from Rios to soften the blow of that loss, manager Ron Washington wants Rios to know that he doesn't expect him to be Cruz.
"The only thing I want him to make certain that he understands is that we didn't bring him here to carry us,'' Washington said. "We brought him here to fit in. Whatever he can give us, we will take. We know that will be something ... I don't want him to put us on his shoulders. I don't want him to feel like he is someone who was brought here to get us over the hump. We are going to get over that hump. He is going to be a part of that climb. That's all I want.''
Texas CEO Nolan Ryan is impressed with the recent work of his team, which had won 10 of 11 entering Saturday's game after losing 12 of its previous 15 games. He believes the acquisition of Rios will help the Rangers as they fight for a postseason spot.
"This is an interesting ballclub,'' Ryan said. "About the time you think: `Man, we are upside down' we come roaring back. We have a setback like we did with the Nellie (Cruz) situation, then we go in and put a quality bat in the lineup that brings veteran experience. You never know. I feel really good about where we are and what we have been able to accomplish.''
The Rangers optioned outfielder Joey Butler, who made his first major league start on Friday night, to Triple-A Round Rock.
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