Andruw wins fifth outfielder spot
Rangers release veteran Catalanotto; Vizquel on final roster
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Rangers set their 25-man roster for Opening Day on Wednesday when they released outfielder Frank Catalanotto and told Andruw Jones that he was on the team. Jones gives the Rangers a right-handed designated hitter who will likely bat fourth in the lineup.Catalanotto, who hit .317 this spring, was told by general manager Jon Daniels in a meeting after the Rangers 5-4 victory over the Angels at the end of a very busy day of roster moves. The Rangers just did not have a role for Catalanotto.
He is a left-handed hitter who plays first base, left field and designated hitter. The Rangers have Chris Davis, David Murphy and Hank Blalock for those three spots and they all hit left-handed. They needed a right-handed hitter instead and settled on Jones, who will be the fifth outfielder and designated hitter."Frank has been nothing but a professional," Daniels said. "I really believe he could help a club looking for a left-handed hitter. I wish him luck, he is nothing but a class act." The Rangers tried to trade Catalanotto but were unable to get any bites. They were close to a deal with the Marlins but that fell through when Florida acquired Ross Gload from Kansas City. Catalanotto has been placed on release waivers that will expire on Monday. If he is unclaimed, the Rangers will be responsible for a $4 million salary in 2009 and a $2 million buyout on a club option for 2010. Catalanotto could then sign with any team. Rangers owner Tom Hicks authorized the move. "We had discussions with a handful of clubs for most of the spring and especially in the last 10-14 days," Daniels said. "At one point there looked like a real possibility but it did not materialize." Daniels said at one point he told Catalanotto that he had no intention of releasing him. "Which was the truth," Daniels said. "I thought I might be able to trade him but that turned out not to be the case." Jones, who was strongly recommended by hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and who won over manager Ron Washington, will be primarily used as a right-handed designated hitter. There is little room in the outfield with a platoon of Murphy and Marlon Byrd in left, Josh Hamilton in center and Nelson Cruz in right. "I feel good," Jones said. "I think in this situation it will be spread out how everybody gets in the game. But the best thing is having Rudy there. He's going to keep you focused. You just do all your work and when you get an opportunity to play, you let it happen." There were some clubs that were watching Jones -- including the Reds and Phillies -- but the Rangers prefer to keep him because of the need for a right-handed hitter in the middle of the lineup. He had a double and a ninth-inning home run on Wednesday that gave the Rangers a victory over the Angels at Diablo Stadium. "He's looking good," Washington said afterward. Jones is now hitting .293 with three home runs and six RBIs in 22 games and 58 at-bats this spring. He was released by the Dodgers in January after hitting .158 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 209 at-bats last year. "It's been a pretty good spring," Jones said. "I've been consistent even though I went a week without playing in 'A' games. I feel good. I'm not complaining about Spring Training because I didn't know what the situation would be. But I did all right. I did everything I was supposed to do." The Rangers made other moves on Wednesday to set their 25-man roster. Omar Vizquel was told that he is on the team and outfielder Brandon Boggs and infielder Joaquin Arias were optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Daniels said the Rangers had some interest from other teams in Arias but weren't interested in moving him. Pitchers Derek Holland, who allowed one run in four innings against the Angels, Neftali Feliz and Doug Mathis were reassigned to the Minor League camp and will pitch in the Oklahoma City rotation. Pitcher Tommy Hunter was optioned to Double-A Frisco. Also on the pitching side, Jason Jennings, Eddie Guardado and Kris Benson -- all in camp on Minor League contracts -- were told they were on the team. Scott Feldman was told he was being moved to the bullpen to make room for Benson in the rotation. The Rangers still have a few days to do the administrative work to clear space and get everybody on the 40-man roster. They began the day at 39. First baseman Joe Koshansky was placed on outright waivers Wednesday to clear one spot. Catalanotto's release will open up a second spot and the Rangers will eventually put both Eric Hurley and Joaquin Benoit on the 60-man disabled list. That will give them 35 on the 40-man. The Rangers are adding six non-roster players -- including shortstop Elvis Andrus -- and they will have to make room for one more player by dropping somebody from the 40-man roster. But the Rangers 25-man roster is set. "I think it's a roster that gives us a chance to win," Daniels said. "We like this club. I know what the experts are saying and where people are picking us, but I'm not concerned with that. I feel this club has a good chance to contend."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.