Notes: Loe, Tejeda set to provide relief
Both pitchers would prefer starting roles; Blalock arrives
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are planning to use Kameron Loe and Robinson Tejeda in the bullpen. They go there reluctantly.The two combined to start 42 games for the Rangers last year and both still harbor hopes of being a starting pitcher again. "I told them that whatever this team wants me to do, I will do it," Loe said. "I just asked them not to forget that I do want to be a starter again. If I show them I can do all the things a starter can do to get through a lineup three or four times and if the opportunity arises, I'd like the opportunity again." Loe was 6-11 with a 5.36 ERA in 23 starts for the Rangers last year while having to deal with back and elbow issues. He was shut down for the final four weeks of the season and had his elbow cleaned up with surgery afterward. "It's been frustrating because I've been hurt at the end of the year for the last couple of years," Loe said. "I just don't want them to forget me. I've had some success as a starter so I'm going to take everything I've learned, put it into my game and not worry about anything else. If they want me to be a reliever I'll be a reliever but I'm going to try and work my way out of the bullpen and back into the starting rotation." Tejeda made 13 relief appearances for the Phillies in 2005 but has been used strictly as a starter by the Rangers since being acquired for David Dellucci during Spring Training 2006. Tejeda referred to the bullpen as a "second option." "I can not say it's definitely going to be the bullpen," Tejeda said. "In baseball you have good times and bad. The main thing is believing in yourself and working hard. That's what I'm prepared to do. If I can do that, I think I can win my spot in the rotation." Tejeda was in the Rangers rotation to start the season and was 4-3 with a 4.53 ERA in his first eight starts. But he was 1-6 with an 8.52 ERA in his next 11 starts and was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma on July 23. The Rangers did not recall him in September. The difference between the good and the bad were his number of walks. Tejeda walked 17 in his first 45 2/3 innings and 43 in his last 49 2/3 innings. "I don't want to put anything bad about last year in my mind," Tejeda said. "The only thing I know is I was having a great season in the beginning and then I lost that. I need to fix it. I just need to work on the strike zone, attacking hitters and be consistent." Message from manager: Washington had a simple message for his pitchers and catchers before their first workout on Friday. "Stay healthy, continue the good work ethic and have some fun," Washington said. "Let them understand that it starts today." The Rangers main goal is to get out of Spring Training without any major injuries and will take is slow with a number of key players. Vicente Padilla is a prime example. The Rangers felt he overdid it in Spring Training and ended up with arm trouble that was not resolved until he went on the disabled list on June 25 with a strained triceps. Padilla was 3-8 6.69 ERA in 15 starts before going on the disabled list and 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in eight starts after he returned on Aug. 15. "I want to take it easy with Padilla and keep him under wraps," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "He likes to throw long toss and I don't want him to get crazy with his throwing. I want him to build up slowly. He did that the year before [when he won 15 games] and he was good."
Blalock arrives: Third baseman Hank Blalock was among those who joined the workout on Friday. The Rangers expect Blalock to be fully recovered from his shoulder and throwing problems last year and have no restrictions on him in Spring Training.Blalock underwent shoulder surgery on May 21 and did not return to the lineup until Sept. 1. But he was limited to designated hitter duty. Now he said he is ready to play third base full-time again. "You can pretty much pretend that I played all of last year, like I was never injured," Blalock said. "I haven't done anything yet but I don't expect any setbacks. I'm just excited to be able to be a complete player again." Outfielder Marlon Byrd also arrived and joined the workouts. Bradley at cleanup: Washington, who is thinking about his potential lineups already, said he is looking at Milton Bradley as his cleanup hitter. The Rangers don't have a true cleanup hitter with immense power and Washington said he wants someone like Bradley who can handle offspeed stuff. Josh Hamilton might end up being that kind of hitter but Washington said he's looking at him as a No. 2 hitter where he could see a lot of fastballs with Michael Young hitting behind him. Blalock could end up hitting fifth followed by Byrd, Ben Broussard and Ian Kinsler. Frank Catalanotto is expected to be the leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching with Kinsler there against lefties. Kinsler signs one-year deal: Kinsler is among 14 players who agreed to a one-year contract for 2008. Kinsler agreed to a deal worth $407,500 and the two sides will have further discussions about a multi-year deal. "I don't want to give a play-by-play on the negotiations but the lines of communication are still open," general manager Jon Daniels said. Also agreeing to one-year contracts were pitchers Scott Feldman, Matt Harrison, Kason Gabbard, Loe, Luis Mendoza, John Rheinecker and Josh Rupe, catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Max Ramirez, infielder Joaquin Arias and outfielders Hamilton, Brandon Boggs and Nelson Cruz. That leaves 11 players without contracts on the 40-man roster. Main concentrating on pitching: Pitcher Michael Main, one of the Rangers' two first-round picks last year, is one of over 40 Minor Leaguers working out in Surprise separate from the Major Leaguers. Main was drafted as a pitcher last year but the Rangers also let him hit because he was a great offensive player in high school. He was 8-for-30 as a designated hitter for the Arizona Rookie League Rangers but he will concentrate strictly on pitching this year. "He's a pitcher and a good one," farm director Scott Servais said. "From a development standpoint, we don't want him to miss time fouling a pitch off his foot or twisting an ankle running the bases. He said it: "You can't have training wheels on forever. If I'm going to do what I want to do, it's got to be by trial and error or whatever catchphrase you want to use. Nobody else can hold your hand. You have to do it on your own." -- C.J. Wilson, on being ready to be the Rangers closer Briefly: Catcher Gerald Laird is limited by a sprained ankle but still went through blocking drills and said, "You see me blocking balls? They can't hold me down. I told the doctor, 'they don't make them like me anymore.'"... Arias missed all of Spring Training with a shoulder injury last year and Washington saw him take ground balls for the first time on Friday. Said Washington: "The kid is smooth. I got to see him for the first time and I saw what everybody is talking about. He's smooth and he has quick hands." ... Washington also saw pitcher Kazuo Fukumori throw for the first time. Fukumori is coming off elbow surgery and Washington said: "He threw without pain. He threw the ball with ease. He wasn't having any problems and he was right around the plate."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.