Catalanotto hoping to stay with Texas
Logjam at first base could force utility man to new team
BALTIMORE -- Frank Catalanotto started July with a three-hit night on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. He wonders if he'll end the month with a new team."I have no idea what to think or if I'm going to be around or not," Catalanotto said Friday before the Rangers' game with the Orioles. "I'm curious to see how it's all going to shake out." It's that time of the year, with less than a month to go before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and there are a number of players who could be changing addresses before the deadline passes. Catalanotto could be foremost among the Rangers because of the arrival of Chris Davis and the impending return of Hank Blalock. If Blalock returns from the disabled list after the All-Star break and Davis continues to show he's ready to hit Major League pitching, then the Rangers will be facing big decisions. It's no secret that the Rangers can't have Blalock, Davis and Catalanotto on the same roster. That's one too many left-handed-hitting first basemen. Davis just got called up last week, but already has three home runs in his first six games. "It's going to be fun to see what they do and how they'll fit everybody in there," Catalanotto said. "If Davis is still hitting like this, he'll have to stay around. If that's the case, somebody will have to be traded." Catalanotto could be the one. The Rangers are inclined to do so and Catalanotto could prove to be a good fit for a National League team looking for a bat off the bench. Catalanotto has a career .289 batting average as a pinch-hitter and his overall average this season is up to .291 after going 3-for-3 on Wednesday in New York. The drawback is that he has one more year at $4 million on his contract. That might make teams reluctant to trade for him. Club sources said there's only been minimal interest so far. "I definitely want to play here," Catalanotto said. "I love the guys, I love the team and I still think I can help the team win. We have a good thing going and I want to be a part of it." The logjam was created when Blalock offered at the end of May to switch from third to first base, then was delayed coming off the disabled list. That prompted the Rangers to call up Davis from Triple-A Oklahoma, but with the idea that Blalock would play first base once he came off the disabled list. Manager Ron Washington made it clear there have been no discussions about asking Blalock to move back to third. Right now the Rangers are platooning Ramon Vazquez and German Duran there. Vazquez was hitting .314 going into Friday's game. "Once Hank made the decision to move to first, he said he didn't want to be yo-yoed back and forth," Washington said. "I want to do my best to respect that. Let's just let this play out. I don't want to speculate. Let's wait until Hank is ready. Chris is playing well so I don't want to create any problems." Catalanotto's three-hit night on Wednesday earned him another start at designated hitter on Friday. With the day off on Thursday, Washington felt Milton Bradley was strong enough to start in right field. "Cat's swinging the bat well," Washington said. "It looked like [Wednesday] he was swinging with determination. He was aggressive and we want to see if we can keep him going. I want to find ways to play him. Every opportunity I get, I'm going to get him in there." Maybe that will help create interest elsewhere.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.