Notes: Decision looming on Otsuka
Young looking for extra bases; Cruz swinging with confidence
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers are facing a Tuesday deadline with reliever Akinori Otsuka, who is still feeling discomfort in his right elbow and remains unavailable.The Rangers have been going with eight relievers because they were able to option Robinson Tejeda during the All-Star break. But Tejeda has to be activated to pitch on Tuesday and that will force the Rangers to drop one of those eight. Wes Littleton will be the likely candidate, but the Rangers don't want to do that until they're sure Otsuka is ready to pitch again. "Aki has to be ready on Tuesday, one way or another," manager Ron Washington said. "By Tuesday, we'll definitely have to do something." Otsuka hasn't pitched in a game since July 1. He threw a bullpen session on Saturday and was still feeling the discomfort in every other pitch. Pitching coach Mark Connor gave him a complete day off on Sunday and Otsuka will throw another bullpen session on Monday in Oakland. "We'll know better after that," Washington said.
Otsuka's inactivity comes at a time when scouts are sitting on the Rangers mainly to scout him and closer Eric Gagne. Trade rumors abound, but most clubs are focused on acquiring pitching and Otsuka and Gagne are on the list of a number of teams looking to acquire bullpen help. The Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees have been the most active in searching for bullpen help. All had scouts watching the Rangers on Sunday.Clubs know that Mark Teixeira could be traded, but close observers don't expect that to happen. The word circulating around baseball is the Rangers are asking for much in return for Teixeira. Looking for extra bases: Shortstop Michael Young went into Sunday's game hitting .277 in his last 23 games. Nothing remarkable about that except Sunday marked one month has gone by since Young's last extra-base hit. Young hasn't had an extra-base hit since a double against the Cincinnati Reds on June 15. Going into Sunday's game, Young's last 26 hits have been singles. "I don't think about those things," Young said. "I've always gone in streaks driving the ball. It's not something I worry about. If I trust in my mechanics, things will fall back in my favor." Young set a Rangers record with 52 doubles last year and was tied for 11th in the American League in extra-base hits. He still has 22 doubles this year but just one triple and four home runs. His last home run was on May 6. "It is unusual, but if I think about it, I'll change my approach," Young said. "I'm not going to do that." Cruz confident: Ever since his demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma on June 7, outfielder Nelson Cruz has been swinging well. Entering Saturday's game against Round Rock, Cruz was hitting .342 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 32 games (116 at-bats). A complete contrast from his .188 average with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 43 games with the Rangers. The difference can be traced to an adjustment Cruz made with his stance. When Cruz was sent to Oklahoma, manager Bobby Jones, hitting coach Randy Whisler and Rangers hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger spent a night in the batting cage with Cruz. They decided Cruz needed a more open stance. "I was standing straight, and they opened me a little bit and I can see the ball much better," Cruz said. "[I used to] turn my head and only see the ball with one eye, now I see it much better." Padilla status uncertain: The Rangers remain unsure about the status of pitcher Vicente Padilla. He had more elbow problems in his rehab start for Double-A Frisco last Thursday and did not throw in the bullpen on Saturday. He is supposed to pitch for Frisco on Tuesday, but nobody is really sure if he'll make that start or be able to start for the Rangers on Sunday against the Cleveland Indians. "He felt better after treatment [Saturday]," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We're waiting to see how he progresses before deciding if he makes the start Tuesday." Davis streaking: Class A Bakersfield third baseman Chris Davis takes a 32-game hitting streak into Sunday's game with Visalia. The California League record is 35 games. Davis is hitting .313 with 20 home runs and 83 RBIs and is one of the players the Rangers will discuss promoting to the next level when general manager Jon Daniels and farm director Scott Servais meet later this week. Others who could get consideration are Bakersfield catcher Taylor Teagarden and Clinton third baseman John Whittleman. He said it: "A lot of guys that come back are ticked off and like, 'I shouldn't be here.' But, none of these guys have been a problem. We're lucky that way, because we got pretty good chemistry. Usually, some guy comes down and rocks the boat; so far, none of these guys have." -- Triple-A Oklahoma manager Bobby Jones on the constant shuffle of players Saturday's Minor stars: Gold: Edison Volquez raised his record to 8-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts for Frisco with a 3-1 victory over Corpus Christi. He allowed just four hits in seven scoreless innings and struck out 10 while not walking a batter. ... Silver: Class A Spokane catcher Chris Gradoville was 2-for-4 with a three-run home run in a 6-3 victory over Yakima. ... Bronze: Right-handed pitcher Kennil Gomez pitched three scoreless innings in the Arizona Rookie Rangers' 4-1 victory over the Mariners. He allowed one hit and struck out five. Up next: Right-hander Jamey Wright pitches for the Rangers in the first game of a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at 9:05 p.m. CT on Monday at McAfee Coliseum. Rookie left-hander Dallas Braden pitches for the Athletics.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Drew Davison contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.