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Kinsler Struggling As No. 3 Hitter

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 10: Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers hits a bases loaded double driving in two runs in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on June 10, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Shortly before Nelson Cruz was hit with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal, he was moved back in the batting order and replaced with Ian Kinsler after Leonys Martin was moved up to leadoff.

    The move came after an awful road series in Cleveland that resulted in a closed-door team meeting as Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to shake up his order.

    The first couple of times out as the No. 3 hitter, Kinsler came through, tallying three RBIs in his first two games in the key spot in the order — a spot that is expected to produce, and produce a lot.

    But since then, it's been a rough road for Kinsler, who has usually hit first, second or fifth and sixth in the order through his career, but never in a role that is expected to produce runs at a good clip.

    Since those first two starts, Kinsler has just three RBIs in his last 53 at-bats and is in a 1-for-17 skid with runners in scoring position, including a key situation in the eighth inning on Tuesday night.

    Kinsler came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs after Milwaukee closer Jim Henderson had given up an infield single to Leonys Martin and struck out Elvis Andrus. Henderson was struggling with his control and was in a 3-1 hole to Kinsler with the bags full with the Rangers trailing 5-1. Instead of taking what would have been Ball 4 and scored a run to bring up Adrian Beltre with the bases loaded, Kinsler swung at a high-and-tight pitch, made good contact but hit it right to the Brewers' third base to end the inning and the threat.

    Since moving to the 3-hole — 16 starts now — Kinsler is hitting just .213 with a homer and six RBIs (again, three of those came in his first two starts).

    Washington will ride with Kinsler longer, because that's what he does and because Martin has proven effective as a leadoff man. But when Lance Berkman returns this weekend, and if he's healthy and effective, you have to wonder if Berkman could eventually slide back into the 3-hole, where he started the season.