Ledee sparks Rangers win

Wednesday, August 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND – Ricky Ledee has every reason to make excuses for a sour season. Being back in Cleveland is only a reminder.

He has worn three different uniforms, traversing from New York, where he never got comfortable with the Yankees, to Cleveland, where he thought he was finding comfort, and now to Texas, where he just wants something that is comforting. Tuesday night might be a start.

Ledee was a major reason the Rangers stomped Cleveland, 11-2, at Jacobs Field, driving in two runs and getting three hits, matching the total he had in nine games with the Rangers before Tuesday night.

Another major reason for Tuesday's rout, Gabe Kapler, might just be the person Ledee can find comfort in. Kapler continued his amazing turnaround, going 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. He had two RBIs, giving him 16 in his last 15 games. Kapler is two games short of Mickey Rivers' team-record 24-game hitting streak.

Kapler can serve as Ledee's model. Work enough with hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo, and results follow.

"He's going to have a lot of nights like tonight," Oates said of Ledee. "He'll get to where Kapler is. If he and Rudy keep working, Ricky will get there."

As bad as this season has been – Ledee is batting .226 with nine home runs and still has 44 RBIs, seven more than Kapler – he is intent on finding an answer before next spring training. He is working during early batting practice daily with Jaramillo. Ledee searches to find the swing that made him one of the Yankees' top minor-league prospects a few years ago.

"Whatever it is, I won't give up," Ledee said. Jaramillo and Kapler never gave up. Kapler continued his second-half surge in the first inning, ripping a two-run double down the left-field line. Ledee extended the Rangers lead to 3-0, doing what he supposed to, bouncing a grounder to the right side.

Kapler and Ledee pushed the Rangers' lead to 5-1 in the third inning. Kapler had his second double, a bullet up the left-center field alley. He scored on Ledee's solid single to right.

Ledee's most important at-bat came in the eighth inning, a soft single to left field against left-hander Tom Martin. Ledee was lifted with the bases loaded in a scoreless game Monday night in favor of pinch-hitter Chad Curtis.

Ledee admits he is hard on himself about what he thought would be his breakout season. He never really got a chance with the Yankees, and his stay in Cleveland was too short to judge.

"Hopefully this is all part of learning," Ledee said. "It's especially hard during the season, trying to make changes."

With 51 games left, he refuses to believe it's too late to take something positive into next season.

"I thought this year was going to be good," Ledee said. "Now I have to make something out of it."

Todd Wills is a staff writer for the Arlington Morning News.