Notes: Gagne, Otsuka targeted
Playoff contenders looking to deal for Rangers' relief stars
ARLINGTON -- Eric Gagne has heard the rumors. Akinori Otsuka seemed surprised when the subject was brought up.The simple fact is the Rangers are getting hit up by a number of teams in baseball. Clubs need relief pitching and the Rangers, preparing to be sellers in the summer trade market, have two relievers who are highly coveted. "I've heard," Gagne said. "When you're wanted, it's always a good thing. It's great. If I wasn't doing good, I don't think there would be any interest." Just in the American League, the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians are eagerly looking for bullpen help. The Red Sox have a closer in Jonathan Papelbon but are interested in reinforcing their setup relief and are interested in Otsuka. The Indians, concerned about their closer situation, are interested in Gagne. The Tigers are interested in both. In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks are among the most active in looking for relief help. "I don't know what to think, but we have a good bullpen," Otsuka said. Otsuka can be a free agent after the 2009 season. Gagne can be a free agent after this season. He also has a partial no-trade clause, which means he can designate 12 teams that he can't be traded to without his consent. He smiled and said he doesn't remember which teams are on the list. He said he would rather stay in Texas. "I signed on to be a Ranger and that's all I care about," Gagne said. "When I got here, it was a one-year deal, but I said it was a long-term commitment. I still feel I can really help this team, but I can't control what they do. "I'm a Ranger and I'm proud to be a Ranger. I don't know what will happen or what direction they'll go. We'll see if they want me or not. I'm not going to worry about it, I'm going to do my job and help the team get back on track." Otsuka hands over ball: Otsuka ended up giving back the baseball that Sammy Sosa hit for his 600th home run on Wednesday night. Otsuka retrieved the baseball after Sosa hit it into the Rangers' bullpen and joked on Thursday that it wasn't an easy decision to hand the ball back to his teammate, knowing that it was quite valuable.
"Last night I had trouble sleeping I was so excited," Otsuka said. "I realized what it meant to get that baseball. I had good Aki talking to me and bad Aki talking to me. But when I woke up, the good Aki won."Some of the memorabilia will end up in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and some will be put on display at the Rangers Legends of the Game Museum at the Ballpark. McCarthy update: Starter Brandon McCarthy threw a 42-pitch bullpen session before Thursday's game against the Chicago Cubs. "It went good, everything felt good with no real problems," McCarthy said. "The bullpen was longer than usual with 42 pitches, but we just wanted to stretch it out." McCarthy went on the 15-day disabled list June 14 with a blister on his right middle finger. McCarthy is scheduled to make two rehab starts, Sunday at Triple-A Oklahoma and June 29 at Double-A Frisco. "We want to make sure the pitch count is where it needs to be and make sure I can get through five or six innings without any problems," he said. "I think I'll be ready to go five days after that." If everything goes well on his rehab assignment, McCarthy could rejoin the team July 4 vs. the Angels. Kameron Loe was recalled to fill McCarthy's spot in the rotation June 14 and has pitched well. He is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA. Manager Ron Washington said he is not sure where the team stands with its rotation, and will take it day-to-day until a decision has to be made. He said it: "If he plays another year, I think he does. Because I tell you what, he's going to be better next year than he is this year. I think he is going to have a better idea at what they're trying to do to him. He's going to get better at off-speed stuff and start crunching some of that." -- Washington, on Sosa's potential to reach Willie Mays' 660 home runs Wednesday's Minor League Stars: Gold: Outfielder John Mayberry hit his first Double-A home run as Frisco defeated Midland, 6-3. Mayberry was 2-for-3 on the night with two RBIs. Silver: Catcher Chris Stewart hit a game-tying RBI single in the ninth of Triple-A Oklahoma's 3-2 victory over Albuquerque. Stewart also scored the game-winning run. Bronze: Second baseman Matthew Lawson hit a solo home run in Class A Spokane's 11-1 loss to Eugene. Lawson went 3-for-4 on the night. Briefly: Washington gave Gerald Laird a choice of taking Thursday off or Saturday. Laird chose Thursday, and Adam Melhuse got the start and homered in his first at-bat. ... Wilkerson started in right field for the second time since coming off the disabled list. ... Double-A Frisco pitcher Luis Mendoza is replacing Eric Hurley on the Texas League All-Star team.
Up next: Texas hosts its in-state foe, the Houston Astros, in the opening game of the three-game Interleague series Friday at 7:35 p.m. CT at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Right-hander Kevin Millwood takes the mound for the Rangers against right-hander Woody Williams of the Astros.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.