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Laffey, Marte help Indians split-squad top Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A day in the field was just what Texas Rangers slugger Vladimir Guerrero needed to end his struggles at the plate.

Guerrero, making his first appearance of the spring in right field, went 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored as the Rangers lost 12-2 to a Cleveland Indians split-squad Friday.

"He got through it healthy, which is the big thing," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "It gave him something else to do other than swing the bat and sit down."

Guerrero is 8 for 32 this spring with three doubles, four RBI and no home runs.

"I don't concentrate on average now," Guerrero said. "I just want to have good contact with pitches and prepare mentally. That's what you need."

Guerrero saw little action in the field, with one ground single coming his way.

"I'd like to be there," said Guerrero through a translator. "It's not that I want to be there every single day, but I'll try to help. It felt good today."

Unquestionably, the 35-year-old Guerrero was brought to Texas for his bat. But Washington said there will be moments through the season when Guerrero will be called on to spell Nelson Cruz in right field. In his last game playing the outfield — July 7, 2009 for Anaheim in Texas — Guerrero strained his right knee and missed the next 21 games.

"Vlad said he didn't want to just be a DH," Washington said. "He has feelings. He's a ballplayer. I feel like (playing the field) can help him feel like he's a part. So I put him out there and tell him to be careful."

Guerrero had the second of four hits and scored the only run off Indians starter Aaron Laffey, who is in a three-way competition for the last two spots in the Cleveland rotation. Laffey scattered four hits over four innings with a walk, a hit batter and three strikeouts.

"This is my third year so I don't worry about the fighting thing," Laffey said. "I let those guys (managers and coaches) figure it out. They know everything I can do."

Laffey was markedly improved over his last start, when he allowed five runs on five hits and three walks in 2 2-3 innings against San Diego.

"After my last outing and walking three guys I wanted to come out and pound the strike zone," Laffey said. "They told me the most important thing is consistency from outing to outing and inning to inning."

Texas starter Brandon McCarthy did not fare nearly was well as Laffey, allowing five runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Andy Marte hit a first-inning grand slam before McCarthy recorded an out, and Shelley Duncan added a third-inning solo homer.

NOTES: The Indians lowered their staff ERA to 3.48. ... McCarthy threw 42 pitches in the first inning and 36 over his final three. ... Rangers RHP Tommy Hunter will miss one to two weeks with a strained left oblique, meaning he likely will miss opening day. ... With the day game following consecutive night games, Rangers 3B Michael Young and OF Josh Hamilton took the day off. ... The Indians on Friday optioned seven players to the minor leagues. RHPs Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Rondon, OF Jordan Brown and C Carlos Santana were optioned to Triple-A Columbus, while INF Carlos Rivera and OF Nick Weglarz were sent to Double-A Akron. Cleveland has 48 players left in camp. ... Texas assigned 1B Justin Smoak and INFs Mitch Moreland and Chad Tracy to minor league camp, reducing their roster to 48 players as well.