Notes: Sosa on the block
Texas exploring trade options for DH, but little interest so far
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers most immediate priority leading up to the July 31 trade deadline is to find a new home for Sammy Sosa.The Rangers, according to Major League officials, will drive a hard bargain for first baseman Mark Teixeira and relievers Akinori Otsuka and Eric Gagne, but have told teams they will be more than reasonable if somebody is interested in Sosa. Sosa went into Saturday's game hitting .241 with 14 home runs and a club-leading 63 RBIs, but so far the Rangers have found little in the way of a market for the 38-year-old outfielder/designated hitter. Most teams are still focused on acquiring pitching and the Rangers may have an easier time dealing Jamey Wright than they do Sosa. "I don't make those decisions, but there are a lot of people here who are in the same situation," Sosa said. "When that happens I'll believe it. Right now I'm focused on what I have to do here. That's my concern. Right now I'm living day-to-day." Among American League contenders, the Minnesota Twins have the biggest need for a designated hitter. The Twins, going into Saturday, had just three home runs and 38 RBIs in 81 games from the DH spot but have not shown any interest. There are more teams in the National League looking for hitting, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. But Sosa's defensive limitations may make NL teams hesitant to do a deal. Moving Sosa would open up a spot for Jason Botts, who is hitting .320 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs at Triple-A Oklahoma. The Rangers would like to get him up to the Major Leagues but won't do that until something happens with Sosa. "Jason will get an opportunity this year," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "But I don't want to call him up until we can get everyday at-bats for him." Manager Ron Washington is still trying to get Sosa playing time, even though it could get tougher as the season progresses. Brad Wilkerson was on the bench for the second straight game on Saturday with Sosa still at designated hitter. Sosa will sit on Sunday as Wilkerson starts at first base and Teixeira starts at designated hitter. "It's only the second game after the break," Washington said. "I've got confidence in Sammy so he's DHing. I want Sammy in there." No cause for celebration: Kevin Millwood still has the baseball that he used to record his 1,000th Major League strikeout. "It was against Miguel Cabrera," Millwood said. "I actually hit him in the knee. I threw a sinker down and in. He swung and missed and the ball hit him in the knee." Millwood kept that baseball, plus one from his 100th victory and his no-hitter. But he did not keep the baseball he used to strike out Reggie Willits on Friday for the 1,500th of his career. Maybe the 2,000th strikeout baseball? "I'm just hoping to pitch that long," Millwood said. Millwood, 32, has 129 career victories and the milestone he would like most is to reach the 200-victory mark. "If I could reach 200 wins, that would be a pretty solid career," Millwood said. "It's definitely tougher to get there than it was 30 years ago." Redman leaves RedHawks: Veteran pitcher Mark Redman has opted out of his contract at Oklahoma. Redman made nine starts for the RedHawks and was 2-4 with a 5.34 ERA. There was almost no chance of him being called up to the Major Leagues. Metcalf shows aptitude: Rookie third baseman Travis Metcalf isn't playing much, but he did show Washington he could teach the game. Metcalf joined Washington in conducting a clinic at Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy in nearby Compton, Calif., on Saturday and impressed his manager with his knowledge of the game. "I was totally impressed by the way he went about it and the information that he gave," Washington said. "He handled the infield instruction and was awesome. They asked me if I wanted to add anything and there was nothing I could say or add." Otsuka throws off mound: Akinori Otsuka threw off a mound on Saturday for the first time since coming down with the soreness in his right elbow. That was a big step toward getting him back. Otsuka was unavailable on Saturday but could finally be available for Sunday's game. He hasn't pitched since July 1. "He hasn't hurt us by taking time off," Washington said. "We've been able to get things done and we haven't been in a situation where we overused anyone." He said it: "He is one of the best hitters I've ever seen. I don't remember watching a hitter hit the ball hard for an entire season the way he did the year he won the batting title." -- former Rangers general manager Tom Grieve on Julio Franco, who was let go by the Mets this week. Friday Minor Stars:
Gold: Third baseman Christopher Davis was 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs in Class A Bakersfield's 13-12 loss to High Desert and has now hit safely in 31 straight games. Silver: Right-hander Luis Mendoza pitched seven scoreless innings in Double-A Frisco's 4-0 victory over Corpus Christi. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out two and is now 10-1 with a 4.34 ERA. Bronze: Outfielder Nelson Cruz was 3-for-5 with four RBIs in Oklahoma's 9-8 victory over Round Rock. Up next: Right-hander Brandon McCarthy closes out the three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 2:35 p.m. CT Sunday at Angel Stadium. Right-hander Jered Weaver pitches for the Angel.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.