KANSAS CITY -- As of Monday morning, Rangers outfielder David Murphy was third in the American League in hitting. Murphy, for the first time in his career, has enough plate appearances to be listed among the league leaders, and he went into Monday's game against the Royals hitting .322.That put him behind Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who is hitting .333, and Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who is hitting .331. "It's pretty cool, but the bottom line is we're trying to win a division," Murphy said. "I don't need to focus on that. I need to focus on our team goals. If it's something I obsess over and exhaust myself thinking about it, I'll drive myself crazy." The Rangers have had three batting champions in club history: Julio Franco won it in 1991, Michael Young in 2005 and Josh Hamilton in '10. Young was also in the race for a batting title down to the end of last season but lost out to Cabrera. Young hit a career-high .338 while finishing right behind Cabrera (.344). "It's much easier when you're playing for a really good team," Young said. "It's much easier to focus on your job when you're playing for something important. Murph has had a great year, he has been swinging the bat well all season long, and we have all the confidence in the world that he'll continue to do what he has been doing."
Kinsler returns to lineup as back issue improves
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler was back in the lineup against the Royals on Monday after missing Sunday's 8-3 victory over the Indians with stiffness in his lower back.Kinsler said the back flared up on him a couple of weeks ago, but Sunday was the first time it forced him out of the lineup. He walked into manager Ron Washington's office on Monday morning and said he was ready to go. "I don't know what it is, but today it's fine," Kinsler said. "I just need to try and stay on top of it and make sure it doesn't happen again. It's good today. I probably could have played yesterday." Instead, the Rangers started Jurickson Profar at second base in his first game in the Major Leagues. Profar went 2-for-4, including a home run in his first at-bat. But Washington wasn't ready to put Profar back in the lineup on Monday. "We've got a heckuva team," Washington said. "Kinsler is ready to go. You're going to see Profar play again. I want to see everything he has to offer, but I'm not going to create opportunities. The game will dictate that. But I want to see everything he can do." Mike Olt was also back in the lineup on Monday, as the Rangers faced their first left-hander in a week with Bruce Chen starting for the Royals. Olt is dealing with inflammation in his right heel, but Washington said he is good to go.
Profar's favorite part of debut: Rangers win
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar said he heard from people back in his native Curacao after going 2-for-4 with a home run and a double in his first Major League game on Sunday."Yeah, the whole island called," Profar said. "I had to do an interview on the radio at eight o'clock this morning." Profar was already a hero in Curacao after leading the island nation to a Little League World Series title in 2004. He is the 13th player from the country to play in the Major Leagues. The most famous is Andruw Jones. "It was a pretty good day. ... I'm very happy, especially as far as winning." Profar said. The Rangers beat the Indians, 8-3, and Profar got them started by hitting a third-inning home run in his first Major League at-bat. He was the first Rangers player to ever accomplish that feat. Profar, who was 19 years and 195 days old on Sunday, set off all kinds of statistical marks after his big day, including being the youngest player in the Majors to hit a home run since Adrian Beltre (19 years, 171 days) for the Dodgers in 1998. He is the youngest player since Jones (1996 with the Braves) to hit a home run and a double in the same game. He is only the third teenager to hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat, and the first teenager to have two extra-base hits in his Major League debut since 1958. "I know it was special, but that's not what I was thinking about," Profar said. "All I want to do is win."
Napoli not ready to run on the basepaths
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers catcher Mike Napoli, who is on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle, spent Labor Day doing more agility drills and light running. He is also able to take batting practice and catch pitchers throwing in the bullpen.He has still not been able to run the bases, and a timetable for his return to the lineup remains uncertain. Monday also brought an end to the regular season for the Rangers' top two Minor League teams. Triple-A Round Rock is done for the season, while Double-A Frisco begins a best-of-five Texas League playoff series against Corpus Christi on Wednesday. If the Roughriders win, they would advance to the Texas League finals against either Springfield or Tulsa. That would be Napoli's final chance to get at-bats in the Minor Leagues before he is activated. But right now he is not ready to go on a rehab assignment, with just one month left in the regular season. He has been on the disabled list since Aug. 11. "If we make it into the middle of September, it might be a concern," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's coming along slowly, but we told him to come at his own pace. We want him to be comfortable. We'll live with what we've got and wait on Mike until he's able to perform. There are days he has felt good, and there are days that he hasn't been able to trust it. It's all based on feel."
The Rangers' win on Sunday was the 506th for manager Ron Washington, tying him with Johnny Oates for the second most in club history. Bobby Valentine holds the record with 581 wins from 1985-92. After Kansas City, the Rangers head to St. Petersburg to take on the Rays for three games, and they are scheduled to go against left-hander David Price on Friday and right-hander James Shields on Saturday. The Rangers beat both on the last homestand. Alex Cobb is in line to pitch on Sunday. Elvis Andrus stole his 20th base on Sunday, the fourth year in a row he has reached that level. Minor League field coordinator Jayce Tingler has joined the team as an extra coach in Kansas City.
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.