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Kouzmanoff Making Pitchers Pay

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 17: Kevin Kouzmanoff #6 of the Texas Rangers and Prince Fielder #84 of the Texas Rangers celebrate after scoring on a single hit by Mitch Moreland #18 of the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 17, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

    We get it. Prince Fielder has the track record and the skins on the wall. He's a scary, scary power hitter in the heart of the Texas Rangers order. But a tenth of the way through the season, he's a scary, scary power hitter who's hitting below .200 and has one homer to his credit.

    Yet, opposing pitchers are still giving Fielder a free pass with no Adrian Beltre to protect him and electing to pitch to journeyman third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. And for the past week, Kouzmanoff has made them all pay the price.

    Thursday showed the latest example, when the Mariners walked Fielder in the Rangers' three-run first inning to pitch to Kouzmanoff, who promptly his one of his two doubles on the day to drive in two runs.

    Kouzmanoff has now hit safely in all eight games he's played for the Rangers, and his days as an everyday player are seemingly numbered with Beltre set to return from the DL next week. It'll be interesting to see what move the Rangers make when Beltre returns, because at this point it's impossible to send Kouzmanoff back to the minors. The logical choices are Josh Wilson or Donnie Murphy, but then you don't have a backup middle infielder, and that's not good.

    That means Michael Choice could be on his way to the minors to play every day (which he needs) and that would open up a spot as a designated hitter for Kouzmanoff. This tear won't last forever for Kouzmanoff, but the Rangers need to ride it as long as they can.