CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington played for the Minnesota Twins for six of his 10 Major League seasons. He remembers a welcome presence around the club in those days: legendary slugger Harmon Killebrew.
Killebrew, 74, died on Tuesday morning in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a battle with esophageal cancer. Add Washington to the long list of the baseball community who offered glowing testimonials of the gentle giant.
"We've lost a great man," said Washington. "We've certainly lost an ambassador to baseball in the Minnesota area. I'm really at a loss for words, because Harmon was really a great man. He tried to help people once he finished playing the game. As a ballplayer and all his fellow ballplayers in the league had a lot of respect for him.
"It was just his time."
Killebrew played 14 seasons in the Twin Cities, and his 573 home runs made him the kind of transcendent type of player who could have been hard to approach. Washington remembers him as anything but.
"I played in Minnesota for six years and a lot of guys certainly looked forward to when he came down to Spring Training," said Washington. "He certainly didn't push himself on you, but he's the kind of guy that you just drew to. He had a lot of wisdom."
Hamilton to start rehab assignment Wednesday
CHICAGO -- Ailing slugger Josh Hamilton left the team on Tuesday, and that may be great news for Rangers fans.
Hamilton took early batting practice at U.S. Cellular field, before leaving the park to return to Dallas. He will have the non-displaced fracture of his right humerus bone re-examined by team physician Keith Meister on Wednesday, and if all goes well, he will begin a five-game rehab stint with Double-A Frisco later in the day.
What did Rangers manager Ron Washington have to say to Hamilton as he departed?
"'Have fun, stay healthy, hope everything works out and see you when you get back,'" said Washington.
Hamilton has been on the disabled list since April 13 with the injury, which occurred when he dove into home plate trying to score against Detroit on April 12. The plan is for Hamilton to get 20 or so rehab at-bats in the Minors before returning to the Rangers. The reigning AL MVP is hitting .333 with seven RBIs in 11 games this season.
"He'll play two in Frisco, if Dr. Meister OKs him to do it starting tomorrow," said Washington. "Then, he'll play three in [Triple-A] Round Rock."
When asked if Hamilton could return to the Texas lineup as soon as Monday, Washington smiled wryly and said, "We'll see."
Cold weather keeps Moreland on bench
CHICAGO -- Another chilly day in the Windy City meant another night off for Mitch Moreland, who has missed the three games because of soreness in his left hamstring.
"Your body is always going to be tighter in cold weather," Moreland said. "At the same time, I'm getting ready to go. I can't really blame it on anything, but I'll be ready to go if he needs me."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said that if the weather in Chicago, with its temperatures in the mid- to low-50s, was better, Moreland would have started on Tuesday. He was available for pinch-hitting duty.
"He'll be in there tomorrow in Kansas City," Washington said.
Moreland is hitting .289 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 36 games.
Meanwhile, rehabbing starter Brandon Webb (right shoulder surgery) made another appearance Tuesday at extended spring training in Surprise, Ariz. He threw four innings and allowed eight hits, five runs and two walks. He struck out three batters.
Also, Nelson Cruz (strained right quad) was due to make his second rehab start for Double-A Frisco after going 1-for-3 with a walk and a double for the RoughRiders on Monday night.
AL All-Star staff to include Acta, Farrell
CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington will manage the American League squad in the All-Star Game on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix, a happy by-product of Texas' pennant last season. On Tuesday, he announced who will help him out: Cleveland manager Manny Acta and Toronto manager John Farrell.
"Jim Leyland led me down that trail," said Washington. "When he brought me in as [one of] his [coaches], he told me he always wanted to give first-year managers and guys that had never been there the opportunity, because you never know if you're going to get there.
"I've always admired Manny Acta. I like the way he goes about his business. John Farrell, we played together in Cleveland, and he's a first-year manager. I asked him and he was all for it. I'm very happy with those two guys."
Washington is excited about his first time managing an All-Star Game, but with World Series home-field advantage on the line, he knows it's not all fun and games.
"It's a mix [of fun and business]," said Washington. "You compete so you want to win and we'll do everything we can do that.
"I can sit here and say it's my second one, but I've never managed. I get to manage this time. And it's fortunate we're going to play DH rules. That makes it even better."
Young simply a hit machine on the road
CHICAGO -- Michael Young hits everywhere. Rangers fans know that. This season, as it happens, he's just been better on the road. Better than everyone.
After getting two hits in Monday's 4-0 win over the White Sox, Young entered play Tuesday leading the Major Leagues with a .394 road average. He had a hit in his last 16 road contests, the longest such streak in baseball this season.
"It's coincidental," said Young. "I don't really try to differentiate from home or the road, I just try to get hits no matter where I'm at."
Young is a career .281 hitter on the road, and hit as high as .330 away from home in 2005. Still, this current stretch puts him in rarified air.
"Michael Young, he's a steady guy," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "Nothing changes. He makes his adjustments, he's been around long enough. He's one of the veterans that we have that knows what he has to do to be consistent.
"I think that's why in the past 7-8 years, he's been what he's been, because he knows how to be consistent. That's what the game of baseball is all about."
It's not like Young has struggled at home. He's hitting .309 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington this season and .322 overall.
"I don't think it matters whether he's on the road or at home, I just think he knows what he's doing," said Washington. "That's like all the great hitters in the game."
Rangers persevering through injuries, bad luck
CHICAGO -- After starting their road trip with a win on Monday, the Rangers found themselves in first place later on after the Angels lost in Oakland. It's not an unusual place for Texas, which has been in first place in the American League West for 151 of 165 days, dating back to June 8 of last season.
What is unusual is that the Rangers have climbed back into the top spot in their division despite a spate of injuries that landed their entire starting outfield on the disabled list, as well as key hurlers Brandon Webb, Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter.
"We're happy where we're at right now, standings at least," said the Rangers' Michael Young. "We're definitely capable of playing better baseball. I think over the last week or so we've started to play our style of ball. Hopefully, that will just reinforce for when we get healthy."
Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't surprised that his squad has survived the string of bad luck.
"One thing about those guys out there [in the clubhouse] that I always admire is that they know how to persevere," said Washington. "Everybody wants things to be better, but sometimes things don't work the way you want them to work. We've done a good job of just trying to battle with what we have.
"There is no one making any excuses, no one pointing fingers, we're just battling with what we have. When I step into that tunnel, I do see light because we've got some guys coming back."
Washington says the club could be in an even better position if not for some bad luck.
"With some breaks here and there, it could have been different," said Washington. "I tell you, the stretch we've been through, we haven't caught a single break. Now, we're at a point where we're starting to make our breaks. When you start making your breaks, that's when you start to play some baseball."
With several of the injured players into the rehabilitation part of their recovery process, Washington knows that better days lie ahead.
"First place? You like to be in first place, but it's only May. When we get healthy and we start to hit on all the cylinders that we know we've got there, drop some oil in it, grease it up a little bit and I can start smiling."
Bradford Doolittle is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.