Notes: Rangers are in listening mode
Clubs have great interest in relievers Gagne and Otsuka
DETROIT -- General manager Jon Daniels remains busy as clubs looking to upgrade their bullpen continue to call and ask about Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka.
Daniels said the Rangers are in a "listening mode" right now, and are trying to weigh their needs for the future against disrupting the momentum that they've built lately. The Rangers have won eight of their last 11 games going into Tuesday's game with the Detroit Tigers.
"I like the way we're playing lately," Daniels said before Tuesday's game. "I'm not going to do anything just for the sake of doing anything. It has to make sense.
"We're trying to keep a perspective on where we are. We've dug ourselves a pretty big hole, but I don't want to turn away from the positives we have going. We're in a listening mode."
According to Major League officials, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have shown the most interest in Gagne, while the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers have shown more interest in Otsuka. The Cleveland Indians have shown interest in both.
Daniels declined to discuss specifics but acknowledged there is a lot of interest in the Rangers bullpen.
"It's not surprising given the state of the game with injuries and attrition," Daniels said. "Teams could use bullpen help and ours has performed at a high level. It's a good situation, but we're not actively looking to do anything."
The Rangers appear less motivated to move Otsuka because he still has two more years before he can become a free agent and would likely demand more in return. Gagne can be a free agent after this season, but the Rangers also anticipate he will be a Type A free agent. That means they could offer him arbitration and get two draft picks as compensation if he goes elsewhere.
The Rangers are also monitoring the Los Angeles Dodgers situation. The Dodgers have expressed interest in Mark Teixeira, who is on the disabled list. The Dodgers moved Nomar Garciaparra to third base and are using highly-regarded rookie James Loney at first. If he struggles, the Dodgers and Rangers could re-visit discussions about Teixeira.
The Rangers have also looked into the possibility of acquiring outfielder Milton Bradley, who was designated for assignment by Oakland last week. But getting him at-bats would be difficult and it's unlikely they would do something unless they moved another outfielder.
Aki the author: Otsuka is not only a top-flight reliever but also a best-selling author. Well, maybe not best-selling but he did write a book last offseason.
Loosely translated, it's called: "Promise of the Mound."
"It's about my baseball career, playing in the Major Leagues, the World Baseball Classic and when I was playing in Japan professionally," Otsuka said.
It's also about his mother, who died of cancer when he was 15 years old. She was his inspiration for getting to the Major Leagues.
"Promise of the Mound" refers to the promise that he made to his mother that he would one day be a professional baseball player.
"When I was 10 years old I was a baseball player, but I didn't like practicing," Otsuka said. "One day I didn't go to practice and my mom went looking for me. She said, 'If you want to play baseball, you go to practice. If you don't want to play, then quit right now.'
"I chose to keep playing."
Kinsler at No. 2: Ian Kinsler is settling into the No. 2 spot in the lineup, against both left-handers and right-handers. Washington was using him there against just lefties earlier in the season but thinks he can handle it against right-handers too. Kinsler was hitting .383 with a .482 on-base percentage in the No. 2 spot going into Tuesday's game.
"I'm looking at what I've got and he fits it perfectly," Washington said.
Washington also likes Frank Catalanotto in the lower half of the order.
"Cat would rather be down in the sixth spot where he can just swing the bat," Washington said. "When you're in the No. 2 spot you have to think about bunting and pulling the ball to move runners over and all that. That's not his style."
Gagne more durable: Washington said that Gagne would have pitched on Monday night if the Rangers were in a save situation. That would have been the third straight game for Gagne, something that was unthinkable at the start of the season when he was still recovering from back surgery.
"It's huge," Washington said. "It shows he's getting healthy. He just convinced us he can do it but we still have to pay attention to the fact that he's coming off surgery."
He said it: "His defense is better but defense always gets better when you hit better. That's just the way it is." -- Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on outfielder Marlon Byrd.
Monday's Minor Stars: Gold: Class A Spokane designated hitter Kenny Smith was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in a 10-5 loss to Salem-Keizer.
Silver: Catcher Taylor Teagarden was 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI in Class A Bakersfield's 9-7 loss to Lancaster. He is hitting .321 for the season.
Bronze: Oklahoma outfielder Nelson Cruz was 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 7-1 loss to Omaha and is hitting .406 since his demotion.
Briefly: The Rangers have signed two more draft picks: right-handed pitcher Hector Nelo, a 15th-round pick out of St. Thomas University, and Benjamin Henry, a 30th-round pick out of Loris (S.C.) High School. ... Drew Meyer was activated off the disabled list at Triple-A Oklahoma. ... Left-hander Glenn Swanson, who was 7-5 with a 3.87 ERA in 14 starts at the Class A level, is undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
Up next: Right-hander Kevin Millwood pitches against the Detroit Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Comerica Park. Former Ranger Kenny Rogers pitches for the Tigers in his second start since coming off the disabled list.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.