After a five-and-a-half week stint on the disabled list (left hamstring strain), Mitch Moreland is back tonight, as the .272/.316/.513-hitting first baseman has been activated, and will return to his native defensive position tonight while batting ninth in the batting order. As expected, Leonys Martin has been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, and one hopes that he can pick up from where he left off in the Pacific Coast League, and that his sporadic in-game use over this last month and a half at the major league level doesn't end up wreaking longer-term havoc on his performance ... or, for that matter, his trade value.
With Moreland back in the fold, we should see a couple of different effects: first, the lineup against right-handed starters should receive a pretty substantial bottom-order lift, as he had clobbered righties to the tune of .291/.342/.552 in 147 plate appearances thus far this season and was, at the very least, functioning as an adequate, above-replacement first baseman -- somebody that you weren't locked into for an extended period, who could give you cheap, decent, platoon-type production. A lot of things have gone wrong with the offense of late, and Moreland succumbing to that hamstring problem was one of them.
There's also a bit of a domino effect in play here, as the main beneficiaries of the Moreland injury -- from a playing-time standpoint, at least -- were Craig Gentry, who had emerged as the Rangers' everyday center fielder of late, and Michael Young, who had picked up quite a bit of extra playing time at first base during Moreland's absence. Ideally, Moreland's return allows you to phase Young out of the lineup just a bit against right-handers and roll with Josh Hamilton, Gentry, and Nelson Cruz in the outfield, David Murphy at designated hitter, and Moreland at first base some of the time ... but I don't know how optimistic any of us should be as far as that actually happening, and it seems likelier that Young, in spite of his continued offensive struggles and Gentry's recent success, will continue to receive everyday playing time, with Gentry's playing time being undercut as a result.
Update: Tonight's lineup features Murphy in left field, Hamilton in center field, Cruz in right field, Young at designated hitter, and Moreland at first base. Craig Gentry returns to the bench against Ervin Santana. For what it's worth, Gentry is hitting .296/.355/.388 (100 wRC+) in 109 plate appearances against right-handers this season, with Young going .245/.272/.321 (51 wRC+) in 287 plate appearances against same-handed hurlers. As Josh Hamilton might say, "you guys can chew on that and think about it."