Rangers lose Metcalf, gain German
New infielder expected to start at third base in Triple-A
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have lost Minor League third baseman Travis Metcalf and gained infielder Esteban German.The Royals claimed Metcalf off outright waivers on Wednesday, and the Rangers moved quickly to replace him by signing Esteban German to a Minor League contract. German will be the Rangers' primary third baseman for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Metcalf has been with the Rangers in parts of the past two seasons and hit .249 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 80 games and 217 at-bats. He was also the organization's Minor League Player of the Year in 2005. But his career suffered a major setback last season when he suffered a torn left hamstring in Spring Training and had to undergo surgery. That kept him from being the Rangers' first choice when Hank Blalock went on the disabled list in April with a hamstring injury. Any chance of Metcalf becoming a regular for the Rangers took a hit this winter when they moved Michael Young to third base. Metcalf did work some at first base and outfield in Spring Training, but the Rangers still designated him for assignment Sunday to create space on their 40-man roster. The Royals then claimed him off waivers. "They were the only team to put a claim on him," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "I thought it was 50-50 that he would be claimed, but it only takes one team." German has spent all or part of the last seven seasons in the Majors. He played briefly for the Rangers in 2005 but was with the Royals entirely over the past three seasons. His best season was in 2006, when he batted .326 with a .422 on-base percentage in 106 games and 331 plate appearances. But he slipped to .245 with a .303 on-base percentage in 89 games last year and he was released early this spring. The Cubs signed him on March 13 but released him at the end of camp. German joins an Oklahoma City infield that will have Joaquin Arias at shortstop, German Duran at second base and both Royce Huffman and Scott Thorman at first base. Arias and Duran can both play third base and may on occasion. But Daniels said German, Arias and Duran will likely get the majority of their playing time at one position rather than move around much. Daniels said there are no plans to use Duran in the outfield. "He'll move around some, but we want him to get settled in at second and get going with the bat," Daniels said. Metcalf was the Rangers' primary protection against a long-term injury at third base, but Daniels and manager Ron Washington said they will be adequately covered either by Hank Blalock, Omar Vizquel or German if needed. "Obviously we've got a guy at third who -- knock on wood -- is going to get the majority of the time there," Daniels said, referring to Young. Oklahoma City will settle for an Esteban German and a German Duran in its infield. "That should be a 'Before and After'[puzzle] on Wheel of Fortune," Rangers reliever C.J. Wilson said. Thorman is a left-handed-hitting first baseman who was released by the Brewers at the end of camp and signed this week by the Rangers. Prior to that, he spent nine years in the Braves' organization and was with them at the Major League level in 2006-07. In 175 Major League games and 415 at-bats, Thorman has a career average of .222 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs. He hit .251 with 19 home runs and 56 RBIs in 101 games in Triple-A last year.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.