ARLINGTON -- With Marlon Byrd sidelined because of a sprained left thumb, Frank Catalanotto was back in the Rangers lineup on Saturday night for the first time since Aug. 24. Brandon Boggs would replace Byrd in left field, and manager Ron Washington wanted Catalanotto's experience against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

So Catalanotto was the designated hitter on Saturday, marking only the 62nd time in 143 games that he has been in the Rangers' lineup.

"Obviously, I'd much rather be playing and contributing to the team," Catalanotto said. "I've been handling it all right. For the most part, it's been this way all season -- but especially the last two weeks."

Catalanotto, who went into Saturday's game hitting .272 with two home runs and 21 RBIs in 239 at-bats, was supposed to be at least the Rangers' regular designated hitter against right-handed pitchers this year. But that plan went awry when injuries forced Milton Bradley to spend most of his time at DH.

Catalanotto has been scratching for playing time ever since. He has started 15 games at DH, 21 in the outfield and 25 at first base mainly between the departure of Ben Broussard and the arrival of Chris Davis.

"I view Cat as a professional," Washington said. "I know this isn't what he envisioned when the year started. But Cat's a pro, he never complains, always gets his work in and is always ready when you put him in. He's never expressed his true feelings about not playing."

Catalanotto still has one more season plus an option on his original three-year, $13.5 million contract signed before the 2007 season. His contract calls for a $4 million salary for '09, plus an option of $5 million for 2010 with an unusually hefty $2 million buyout. The extra year on his contract plus the option for '10 is one reason why the Rangers weren't able to trade him this summer.

Catalanotto's future with the club is uncertain as much depends on what will happen with Bradley and Hank Blalock in the offseason. Bradley is a free agent while the Rangers hold a $6.2 million option on Blalock.

"I don't know what to think," Catalanotto said. "I don't know if I'll be here, they'll trade me or I'll be a bench player. I'm not sure what to think but I'm sure bit will shake itself out."