Peguero's power proving pivotal for Rangers

Peguero's power proving pivotal for Rangers

HOUSTON -- The Rangers wanted a big, strong, left-handed-swinging power hitter to play left field and help restore some badly needed thunder into their starting lineup.

That's why they traded for Josh Hamilton. But Hamilton has played in just two extended spring training games, is 0-for-8 and probably won't be ready for another two weeks.

The Rangers may just have to muddle through with Carlos Peguero filling that role instead. Peguero did a pretty good imitation of Hamilton from his glory days on Wednesday night. He went 3-4 with two home runs and three RBI in the Rangers' 11-3 win over the Astros.

"It was really nice to see the offense show," manager Jeff Banister said. "The one thing we did today was we continued to add on runs."

Peguero is the first Rangers player to hit two home runs in a game this season. It's the second time he has done it in his career. The other was June 2, 2011 against the Rays.

That was back when Peguero was a big prospect in the Mariners' system. He was a guy with great power but also big strikeout numbers, and that combination never led to sustained Major League success.

The Rangers signed Peguero this winter to a Minor League contract and discovered in Spring Training he had made significant changes. He was no longer trying to pull everything, but rather he was using the entire field and being more patient at the plate. He didn't make the team out of Spring Training, but he was called up on April 11 when Ryan Rua went on the disabled list with a broken right foot.

Peguero's new approach was never more evident than on Wednesday night, as his two home runs and the single were all hit to left field.

"It was just trying to wait for the ball, let it drop in and put a good swing on it," Peguero said.

"When you see the stroke to left field, [he was] driving the ball, much better tonight," Banister said. "You didn't see him chase any offspeed pitches. Those are the things we saw in Spring Training."

Then there was Peguero's fifth-inning at-bat with no outs and the bases loaded against Astros starter Samuel Deduno. Peguero started off with two big swings that missed on changeups. He then took a changeup in the dirt for a ball, before hitting a 1-2 curve to center field for a sacrifice fly. The adjustment during the at-bat was significant.

"He got back into the at-bat," Banister said. "You want him to be aggressive. He is a big man with power. But once he came up empty on the first two swings, he stayed in the middle of the field -- that is what we have been talking about -- and drilled the ball."

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.