Notes: Interest in Teixeira peaks
Diamondbacks enter pool of suitors; pitching remains price
ARLINGTON -- The Arizona Diamondbacks may be a late entry into the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes.Major League sources said that the Diamondbacks, who went into Saturday's games with the fifth fewest runs in the National League, have expressed interest in Teixeira. They also have a young first baseman in Conor Jackson to offer, but the Rangers are also looking for pitching. The buzz among industry sources is that the Rangers have been heavily scouting the Diamondbacks farm system in case Arizona steps up its efforts. The Diamondbacks won their eighth straight game on Saturday after beating the Atlanta Braves and are putting the pressure on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West. Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is among those who would love to see Teixeira come to Atlanta. "He's a versatile hitter who hits in the middle of the lineup, and he's a switch-hitter," Jones said on Friday. "You know me, I love switch-hitters. He's one of my favorites. It would be nice to have a couple of guys who can hit for average and power in the middle of your lineup." But right now, Teixeira is still with the Rangers. The Braves are willing to trade catcher/first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Minor League pitcher Matt Harrison and shortstop Elvis Andrus, but the Rangers haven't said yes to that. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have indicated that they are willing to deal pitcher Joe Saunders and first baseman Casey Kotchman, but the two sides have had difficulty agreeing on a third player in the deal. Catalanotto to lead off: Jerry Hairston started at leadoff hitter on Saturday. Frank Catalanotto was there on Friday. Ian Kinsler will see time there when he comes off the disabled list. With Kenny Lofton gone, the Rangers have to find a leadoff hitter, and manager Ron Washington said he'll likely platoon Catalanotto and Kinsler at the top of the order for now. "I'm looking for a guy who gives us a good idea of what a pitcher is throwing," Washington said. "A guy who can take some pitches, a guy who gets on base. With Kenny gone we don't have much speed, so we're mainly looking at a guy who will set the tone." Lofton is fifth in the American League with a .378 leadoff on-base percentage, but the Rangers overall were ninth with a .346 average going into Saturday's game. That shows how much the Rangers relied on Lofton. But Catalanotto has a career .374 on-base percentage in 231 games at the leadoff spot. "I like it," Catalanotto said. "I really don't change anything. I see a lot of pitches anyway and I'm not overly aggressive. Whatever the manager wants me to do, I'll do. If that's the spot, I'll embrace it." Kinsler has been in that spot for just eight games over the past two years. Washington will start him out just against left-handers, but that could be a future full-time spot for him. "Ian works the pitcher pretty good," Washington said. "Not only that, he has a chance to give you a one-run lead right off the bat. He has average speed but he's a good basestealer. I think he has good instincts. It's something that he can work on." Rheinecker starts Wednesday: The Rangers have altered their rotation and will start John Rheinecker on Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians. They were going to wait until Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays but the Rangers have moved him up. Washington said that's because Rheinecker is a ground-ball pitcher, and they want him pitching on the natural grass in Cleveland instead of the artificial turf in Toronto. "Maybe we can cut off some of those ground balls that he gets," Washington said. He said it: "I've been in baseball for 17 years. This is the toughest time leading up to the trade deadline. Everybody is talking stuff about everybody." -- Sammy Sosa Saturday's Minor Stars: Gold: Double-A Frisco infielder German Duran hit two home runs in a 6-5 victory over Corpus Christi. He is now batting .306 with 20 home runs and 63 RBIs on the season. Silver: Frisco Left-hander Kasey Kiker is now 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA after a 7-2 victory over Clinton. He allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out seven. Bronze: Paul Kometani picked up his eighth save for Frisco in the win over Corpus Christi, striking out four. Briefly: The Rangers have promoted catcher Taylor Teagarden from Class A Bakersfield to Frisco to make room for Max Ramirez, who was acquired from Cleveland on Friday. ... Pitcher Chris Baker has been promoted from Frisco to Triple-A Oklahoma. Three Minor League players went on the disabled list: Clinton pitcher Brett Zamzow (dislocated finger), Oklahoma pitcher Alfredo Simon (sore elbow) and Frisco infielder Micah Furtado (shoulder separation). ... The Rangers did not have a double on Friday for the first time in 15 games and they lead the Majors in doubles since the All-Star break. ... Hank Blalock, sidelined because of shoulder surgery, has been working extensively with Washington on his defense while he has been out but has not yet regained full feeling in his right hand. He underwent surgery in May and that's what has been keeping him from making all the throws from third to first base. ... Washington on Blalock: "He's made a lot of progress on his defense. His legs are strong and his hands work well. We just have to get his arm right. He's coming in every day busting his tail. I think he'll be better because of all the extra work." Up next: Right-hander Kameron Loe (5-8, 5.59) pitches for the Rangers in the final game of their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Leo Nunez (0-0, 2.25) pitches for the Royals.