Notes: And on Sunday, Blalock rested
Arias nears extended Spring Training; Wright to begin throwing
SEATTLE -- Third baseman Hank Blalock was given his first day off of the season on Sunday when the Rangers faced left-hander Horacio Ramirez in the final game of their three-game series with the Seattle Mariners.Manager Ron Washington said he was looking for a way to get Jerry Hairston and Matt Kata in the lineup. Kata started at third base while Hairston started in left field instead of either left-handed hitters Brad Wilkerson or Frank Catalanotto. "They're part of this ballclub and this was a chance to get some at-bats," Washington said. "Once the starting lineup catches their groove, it's going to be hard for me to pull them out without them breaking my door down. Right now I can do that." Blalock went into Sunday's game with one hit and five strikeouts in his last 12 at-bats and he was leading the team with 13 strikeouts. "I feel fine," Blalock said. "I'm right there where I want to be feeling. The good thing is when you get a day off, you have a guy like Matt who has been doing a good job for us." Washington said he'd like to get his infielders more time off during the season and made the decision on Blalock after Saturday's game. "I want to give him a break," Washington said. "He has been playing since Spring Training and I felt he needs a mental break. Anytime you get a break from the game it pays off. Even when you're doing well and playing 25 games in a row, any break where you come to the ballpark and be a cheerleader can be good for you. I just had a feel it was time to get Hank out of there." Both Michael Young and Mark Teixeira played in 162 games last year. Teixeira was in the lineup on Sunday for the 458th straight game and is now 24 games away from tying Alex Rodriguez's club record of 482 consecutive games played. Barring rainouts, he'll tie and break that record on May 11-12 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Arias watch: Shortstop Joaquin Arias, who started the season on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, was examined by Dr. Keith Meister on Saturday and the Rangers are hoping he'll be able to start playing in games soon in extended Spring Training. He has been working out in Arizona, swinging a bat and building up arm strength while throwing from shortstop. "He's up to about 75 percent," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "The next step is to get him in some games in extended Spring Training. But first we want to make sure he can throw 100 percent. This examination was just to make sure there were no setbacks. We feel like we're headed in the right direction." Stolen moments: Kenny Lofton had two stolen bases on Saturday. It's the second time this season that he has had two stolen bases in a game and the 103rd time in his career. He has 18 games of three or more stolen bases with a career high of five in a 13-inning game with the Cleveland Indians against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept 3, 2000. He said it: "It will be great for one day to wear his number and maybe to feel what he was feeling." -- Washington on wearing Jackie Robinson's No. 42 on Sunday. Briefly: Jamey Wright's MRI showed no major problems and he is expected to resume his throwing program in the next few days. He is expected to miss at least two or three starts while on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. ... The Rangers went into Sunday's game hitting .115 (11-95) with one home run and four RBIs from the seventh inning on. ... Catcher Gerald Laird got a day off on Sunday. He has thrown out seven of 14 attempted basestealers in his first 10 games. The seven caught stealing is the most among Major League catchers. ... Laird was 0-for-14 with four strikeouts in his previous four games at the plate. Saturday Minor stars: Top performances from the Minor Leagues on Saturday: Gold: Triple-A Oklahoma starter Alfredo Simon allowed two runs on two hits and four walks over eight innings in the RedHawks' 5-2 victory over Memphis. Silver: Reliever Frank Francisco earned his first save of the season by striking out the side in the ninth inning for the RedHawks. Bronze: Class A Bakersfield second baseman Micah Furtado went 3-for-4 with two runs scored for the Blaze in an 11-2 victory over Modesto. Up next: The Rangers are off on Monday before opening a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. The Rangers will send Robinson Tejeda to the mound against Jon Garland for the White Sox.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.