SEATTLE -- Rangers manager Ron Washington gave Michael Choice a night off on Saturday, one day after he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez.
"You put any young guy up there [Hernandez] would have taken him to school," Washington said. "The guy is a teacher."
Choice has been the Rangers' primary leadoff hitter ever since Shin-Soo Choo was moved to the No. 3 spot to cover for the loss of Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland. It's not an ideal situation but Washington has to do something to camouflage the holes in his lineup.
"If I had a prototypical leadoff hitter…he's not here," Washington said. "I don't have a leadoff guy. He's not here. We're not playing fantasy baseball. I've got to put somebody in that spot."
Leonys Martin was there on Saturday night. But he went into Saturday hitting .175 in his last 13 games, so Washington wasn't expecting that move to be permanent. He'll likely get Choice back up to the leadoff spot even though he is 7-for-55 with seven walks in 17 games at the top of the order.
"I'm not pulling the plug on him," Washington said. "He's going to be back in there. He's done a lot of good things for us. He's hit some bombs and driven in some runs. He's learning like everybody else. There is upside. I'm staying with him."
The only other alternative is to use Elvis Andrus in the leadoff spot. But Washington prefers to use him at No. 2 so he can keep him clustered with Choo, Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios.
"Elvis is not comfortable in the leadoff spot so I'm not going to put him where he is not comfortable," Washington said. "Every lineup has deficiencies, mine's no different. Maybe Oakland doesn't have any deficiencies, maybe Detroit doesn't have any deficiencies but a lot of clubs have deficiencies. I'm going to put somebody up there."
Tolleson earning prominent role
SEATTLE -- The Rangers had a one-run lead going into the eighth inning on Friday night and a rested bullpen. In an inning that has been trouble for them all season, manager Ron Washington turned the ball over to emerging right-handed reliever Shawn Tolleson.
Tolleson retired the side in order on seven pitches and Joakim Soria shut the game down in the ninth for his 14th save. Using Tolleson in that situation shows the rising faith manager Ron Washington has in a pitcher who was claimed off waivers from the Dodgers last offseason, but has become an integral member of the Rangers bullpen.
"It seems the last few times out there I have come into some tight ballgames," Tolleson said. "I'm excited about that. You want to be in there when there is a lot on the line. At the same time, nothing has changed, you still have to get outs. We've got some guys down in the bullpen who have done a great job. If I can get in there with them, that's great."
Tolleson's scoreless inning earned him the win when the Rangers scored in the ninth for a 1-0 victory. He is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA while opponents are hitting .205 against him. His 1.09 WHIP is the third lowest behind Soria (0.67) and Jason Frasor (1.07).
The Rangers lost two potential eighth-inning setup relievers when Tanner Scheppers and Alexi Ogando went on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. Neither is expected back anytime soon. The Rangers have been outscored 38-22 in the eighth this year, their biggest run differential for any inning.
"You hate to see those guys down," Tolleson said. "Those are guys definitely capable of pitching late in the game. You hate to see them go down but somebody has to step up and fill a role. If there is the opportunity … I'll do it. I'm also still willing to be the long man and go two innings, be a multi-purpose guy."
Rangers sign two more picks
SEATTLE -- The Rangers are close to having all 10 of their top picks from the First-Year Player Draft under contract. The Rangers announced on Saturday that both pitcher Nick Green (seventh round) and Erik Swanson (eighth) have agreed to terms.
Both pitched at the junior college level with Swanson pitching for the national champion Iowa Western while Green was at Indian Hills (Ia.) College. Swanson has been assigned to Class A Spokane while Green will go to the Arizona Rookie League Rangers.
The Rangers are expected to sign fifth-round pick pitcher Wes Chamberlain as soon as he completes his physical. Chamberlain though had Tommy John elbow surgery two months ago.
• Alex Rios went into Saturday's game leading the league in hitting with a .328 batting average.
• Double-A Frisco has clinched a Texas League playoff spot for the eighth time in 12 seasons. They were the first-half champions in the Southern Division despite a 4-3 loss to Corpus Christi on Friday. Joey Gallo hit his fourth home run in five games since being promoted from Class A Myrtle Beach.
• Catcher Robinson Chirinos has thrown out 15 of 33 attempted basestealers going into Saturday's game. That's a 45.4 percent success rate that is the best in the Major Leagues among catchers who have played in at least half of their games.
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.