Notes: Lofton's legs have yet to tire
OF could threaten mark for thefts in a season by 40-year-olds
ARLINGTON -- The New York Mets' exciting Jose Reyes already is drawing attention for entering Thursday with 17 stolen bases in 26 games, on pace for 106. No one has stolen 100 bases in the Major Leagues since St. Louis speedster Vince Coleman swiped 109 in 1987.
But a more intriguing story might be the guy a few steals behind Reyes in the current standings. The Rangers' Kenny Lofton already had 11 steals through 27 games, tying Baltimore's Brian Roberts for the American League lead and trailing only Reyes and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Juan Pierre (12) among all big-league players.
The difference, of course, is that Reyes (23), Pierre (29) or Roberts (29) has yet seen his 30th birthday. Lofton will turn 40 on May 31. He already had 400 career steals and three AL stolen-base crowns before Reyes had turned 15.
How rare is it for such old legs to still be stealing? Consider that Lofton, 39, entered Thursday with 11 steals. Only nine other big-league players 35 or older came into Thursday with a stolen base, headed by Detroit's Gary Sheffield with five. Those other nine 35-plus players had 14 steals among them.
Lofton, who is in his 17th season and with his 11th team, is baseball's active career leader with 610 steals, 17th on the all-time list. He stole 32 bases last year for the Dodgers, and has a chance for another record even if he falls off his current 68-steal pace.
The record for steals in a season in which the player turned 40 was set by the Chicago Cubs' Davey Lopes (47 in 1985). No other player has stolen 40 the same year he turned 40. The next players who came closest appear to be within Lofton's reach: the Mets' Rickey Henderson (37 in 1999), the Braves' Otis Nixon (26 in 1999), the Giants' Willie Mays (23 in 1971) and the Pirates' Honus Wagner (23 in 1914).
"It don't matter," Lofton said. "I don't even think about it."
The Rangers haven't had a 40-steal player since 1995, when Nixon stole 50 bases for them at age 36.
Millwood scratched: Right-hander Kevin Millwood, scheduled to start the first game of Thursday's doubleheader with the Yankees, was scratched because of a tender left hamstring and replaced by right-hander Mike Wood.
Millwood said he began feeling a "cramp that just didn't go away" while taking batting practice Wednesday. Texas pitchers are beginning to take swings in preparation for the first weekend of Interleague Play, May 18-20 in Houston.
"Right now, I can't get out on my front leg without feeling it," Millwood said.
Neither Millwood nor Rangers manager Ron Washington said he feared the pitcher winding up on the disabled list because of the injury. But neither could answer when Millwood will make his next start.
The earliest speculated by either was Tuesday's series opener in New York. But with an off-day next Monday, Millwood said, "I don't think it would be hurting anything to move it back a couple extra days if we need to."
Wednesday's Minor stars: The top three performances from the Rangers' Minor League teams on Wednesday:
Gold: Double-A Frisco right-hander Eric Hurley held San Antonio to two runs over six innings in a 5-3 victory. Hurley improved to 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA through six games (five starts). He has walked seven and struck out 26 in his first 36 innings.
Silver: Catcher Miguel Ojeda was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and singled home the winning run in the ninth in Triple-A Oklahoma's 4-3 comeback over Albuquerque.
Bronze: Class A Clinton third baseman John Whittleman went 3-for-4 with his fourth home run and two RBIs in the Lumberkings' 7-3 victory over Cedar Rapids. Whittleman is 11-for-25 (.444) with two homers and six RBIs in his last six games.
He said it: "You don't want to see fellow players going through things like that. I'd like to see him get back to the way he was. It was amazing what he did." -- New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, on the injury problems of fellow closer Eric Gagne of the Rangers, who converted a record 84 consecutive saves for the Dodgers from 2002-04.
Briefly: Thursday's doubleheader was the first for the Rangers at home since they split a twin bill with the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 30, 2005. ... Rangers reliever C.J. Wilson will visit with children and present a donation at the Boys & Girls Club of Fort Worth on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.
Up next: Right-hander Brandon McCarthy (1-4, 9.90 ERA) tries to snap his three-start losing streak when he faces Toronto right-hander Tomo Ohka (2-2, 5.02 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series Friday with the Blue Jays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.