Rangers keep focus amid talk of clinching
Washington says team has much to do before it can celebrate
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have won three straight American League West titles and five of the last six. There is an outside chance the Rangers could clinch the division while they are in Anaheim.Manager Ron Washington was asked before Monday's game if there would be any satisfaction in clinching on the defending champion's home turf, and he said absolutely not. "I just want to do it," Washington said. "I'm not into satisfaction at somebody else's expense. I'm just trying to win." Washington is also growing both weary and wary of talk about when and where the Rangers might clinch the division. As of Monday afternoon, the Rangers' magic number was still six. Washington made it clear that the Rangers still have too much work to do and still too far to go to start thinking about clinching and celebrating. They are facing the Angels' three best pitchers in this series in Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren, then open a four-game series with the Athletics on Thursday in Oakland. Although the Rangers have a nine-game lead in the West, Washington knows things could change quickly if his team loses focus. "I'm just trying to get through Anaheim tonight," Washington said. "I'm just trying to stay focused on what's at hand and keep those guys focused on what's at hand. These guys [the Angels] are not going to lay down, Oakland is not going to lay down. When we get back home, Seattle is not going to lay down and then we've got these guys again. "We've got to take care of business. These guys play us tough, Oakland plays us tough and Seattle plays us tough. We've got a nice lead, but I'm not comfortable."
Hamilton examined by noted back specialist
ANAHEIM -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton spent Monday being examined by Dr. Robert Watkins, a well-known back specialist in Southern California. Hamilton has been sidelined since Sept. 4 with a bruised right rib cage, and the Rangers are exploring all avenues trying to get him ready for the playoffs.Hamilton has reported little improvement since the injury occurred, and the Rangers are increasingly concerned if he'll be ready for the playoffs. They were hoping that he might be able to return to the lineup at some point on this road trip, but that is becoming increasingly unlikely. That would leave seven games on the final homestand leading up to the playoffs and could give Hamilton the opportunity for 25-30 at-bats in the last week. "It's just a situation where we have to be patient," manager Ron Washington said. "Anything further than that is speculation, and I'm not good at speculating. We'll just wait and see how it goes. Miracles happen." The Rangers will wait until the end. Even if Hamilton doesn't play again during the regular season, if he's healthy enough to be in the lineup for the playoffs, he will be in there. "When he's ready to play, he's going to get at-bats," Washington said. "If we get to the playoffs and he's healthy and hasn't had at-bats, he'll just have to figure it out. It's all about his health." The Rangers did not have the results of Hamilton's eight hours of testing from Monday. He will have more tests on Tuesday.
Rangers trying to get Saturday game on air
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers' game on Saturday against the Oakland Athletics is causing club officials some consternation.This just happens to be the only game of the season that was not originally scheduled to be broadcast back to North Texas. That's bad timing because the Rangers know there is a possibility they could clinch that day. The game is scheduled for 3:07 p.m. CT. The Athletics set the time because it is their home game, but it is in the window of FOX's national exclusivity. Games can not be shown locally during that window if it is not part of FOX's national broadcasts. This game was not picked up by FOX. CEO Chuck Greenberg said the Rangers are trying to explore all possible alternatives to overcome the situation. Major League Baseball, FOX and FOX Sports Southwest are all involved in the discussions. "We're exhausting all available avenues to make sure the game is available to our fans," Greenberg said.
Francisco waits another day to start throwing
ANAHEIM -- Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco was supposed to begin his throwing program on Monday but is going to wait one more day. He has been sidelined since Aug. 28 with a strained muscle in his right rib cage and has not thrown since he was placed on the disabled list.The Rangers medical staff decided to have Francisco wait until Tuesday to begin throwing again. That gives him two weeks to get ready for the playoffs, and the Rangers are still unsure if that will be enough time. As with Josh Hamilton, the Rangers will wait right up until the last minute before making a decision on Francisco's availability for the playoffs. Clubs do not have to set their playoff rosters until midnight the day before their first game. Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers have not yet had a formal meeting to discuss the playoff roster.
All reserved seats are gone for the first two possible playoff games in Arlington. Only single tickets, standing room and obstructed view seats are left. ... Sunday marked the first time that the Yankees, Rangers, Rays and Twins have all lost on the same day this year. ... Ian Kinsler, going into Monday's game, has a .398 batting average at Angel Stadium. That's the highest lifetime average among all Major League players with at least 100 plate appearances.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.