ARLINGTON -- Shin-Soo Choo was back in the leadoff spot on Friday while Leonys Martin was moved down to the sixth spot with right-hander Kevin Correia on the mound for the Twins. Martin had started eight straight games at leadoff hitter.
"I just wanted to change things up," manager Ron Washington said. "See if we can shake it up. We'll see what happens."
Martin was 9-for-29 with six walks in those eight games as the leadoff hitter. But Choo, for the season, went into Friday night hitting .193 with a .268 on-base percentage and a .330 slugging percentage in the No. 3 spot. As a leadoff hitter, he was batting .269 with a .409 on-base percentage and a .404 slugging percentage.
"It doesn't matter, I don't know the numbers," Choo said. "I had two years in the No. 3 spot in Cleveland and had pretty good years."
The Rangers have been struggling in the No. 3 spot all season. Their No. 3 hitters went into Friday's game hitting .221 with a .276 on-base percentage and a .328 slugging percentage. They ranked last in all three categories in the American League. Their 70 runs from the No. 3 spot was also the lowest while 38 RBIs tied for the second fewest.
Carlos Pena started in the No. 3 spot on Friday night. He is the sixth player used there by the Rangers along with Choo, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios and Mitch Moreland.
Wash: Emphasis on development changes nothing
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' stated emphasis on development doesn't change anything for manager Ron Washington.
Washington has two goals every day when he comes to the ballpark. No. 1 is to find a way to win the game that night. The other is to do everything he can to make his young players better.
"We've felt like we have been in that mode with as many kids as we have," Washington said. "We're doing everything we can to make them better as we move forward. That includes our veterans. Everybody in that lineup, we're trying to make better."
The Rangers went into Friday's game having lost eight straight. With any realistic chance of making the playoffs fading with each day, the Rangers want to make sure they identify those players who are going to be a part of the team going forward and do everything they can to make them better.
The Rangers currently have seven rookies on the active roster in pitchers Nick Martinez, Ben Rowen, and Aaron Poreda, infielders Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor and outfielders Michael Choice and Dan Robertson. Pitchers Shawn Tolleson and Nick Tepesch are in their second full season as a Major Leaguer.
"I want to see improvement," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Game to game, week to week, month to month ... I don't know where we're going to be in the standings. I'm still hopeful obviously that we get hot and put something together here, but that aside, I want to look up at the end of the year [and see] we're better. We've got some answers, we know where these guys stand, we know who has the aptitude and the ability to help us going forward and obviously later on all the guys that'll be back from injury.
"I don't say that to suggest that we're looking past this year exclusively, just trying to be realistic. From a staff standpoint, both front office and the coaching staff, that's going to be a big part of how we evaluate the year. Group of 20-something players and where they go from here. We've got get better."
Soria could be All-Star deserving
ARLINGTON -- While online fan voting continues through Wednesday, Major League players will be doing their All-Star voting this weekend. They select the reserves for each team along with five starters and three relievers.
Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish is considered a strong candidate to be selected by the players. Closer Joakim Soria deserves consideration as well even though the Rangers struggles have limited his chances for racking up many saves.
Soria was 15-for-16 in save opportunities going into Friday's game. He was seventh in the league in saves but had a lower WHIP (0.62) and opponents batting average (.141) than any of the other six relievers with more saves. Soria was twice an All-Star with the Royals, so to be selected again after a two-year odyssey recovering from Tommy John surgery would be extra special.
"It would mean a lot," Soria said. "It would be awesome. I never put limitations on what I could do or couldn't do. I put it in God's hands and he gave me the opportunity. I came all this way back because of Him."
Soria may have the best chance of any Rangers pitcher actually appearing in the game. Darvish will likely get selected but he is also scheduled to pitch on the Sunday before the break.
"If I were to get selected, I think I would go sight-seeing," Darvish said.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
• Jim Adduci, who is on the disabled list with a fractured pinkie finger on his left hand, is running and throwing, and is hoping to start swinging a bat sometime next week.
• Outfielder Brad Snyder refused his outright assignment and has taken his free agency. He was designated for assignment on Tuesday.
• Scott Baker went 6 2/3 innings in relief on Thursday night. It's the fourth time he has pitched five or more innings in relief this season, the most by a Major League pitcher since Tom Bolton did it five times for the Red Sox in 1993. Danny Darwin had four such relief appearances for the Rangers in 1980.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.