OAKLAND -- Darren O'Day, the Rangers' sidearming right-handed setup reliever, was available in the bullpen on Thursday night after not pitching since Sept. 10 because of tightness in his back."It's just been stiff ... lower back stiffness," O'Day said. "If I threw overhand, I could been back five-six days ago. But since I throw sidearm, they've been cautious. But I threw in the bullpen [on Wednesday] and felt good. I should be full bore today." The Rangers have multiple reasons to be cautious with O'Day. He is their top eighth-inning setup reliever while Frank Francisco is on the disabled list and his 2.04 ERA ranks eighth among American League relievers. But back trouble can also be a problem for sidearm pitchers throwing from that awkward position. Chad Bradford, once one of the best right-handed sidearmers in the game, had persistent back problems that finally forced him to retire. "It's something I'll have to watch and tailor my offseason workouts toward that," O'Day said. "We took a very cautious route with it to make sure I was ready to go."
Young joins rare group with 1,500 games
OAKLAND -- Michael Young hit another milestone on Thursday night, playing in his 1,500th game with the Rangers.He is the fourth player to reach that level with the club, following Rafael Palmeiro (1,573), Jim Sundberg (1,512) and Ivan Rodriguez (1,507). He is also one of seven active players who have played at least 1,500 games, and they've all been with one team. The others are Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Todd Helton, Jorge Posada, Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols. Young is going to keep playing, at least until the Rangers clinch the division title. He leads the Rangers with 148 games played and has not been out of the lineup since missing back-to-back games on Aug. 18-19 because of stiffness in his neck. All other teammates have had at least a couple of days off in that stretch, but not Young. He did get two innings off in an 11-4 victory over Detroit on the last homestand, but that's it. "Part of my role is to play," Young said. "I'm a little beat up and a little banged up, but this is not the time for me to rest. This is the time for me to keep playing." He was 1-for-4 with a sacrifice fly in Wednesday's 12-inning victory over the Angels but is still 4-for-26 in his last six games, dropping his average to .284. He is also hitting .238 in his last 46 games. On the other hand, Young has not made an error in his last 19 games and he went into September making it clear he wanted to tighten up his defense. He is not overly concerned about his offense. "I feel fine," Young said. "I'm going to just stick to my same approach. If I do that, things will go in my favor and I will get results."
Teagarden gets rare start at catcher
OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics went into Thursday's game with 144 stolen bases, third-best in the American League. Maybe that's why Taylor Teagarden was starting at catcher with Cliff Lee on the mound Thursday night. Teagarden made have the best arm among the Rangers catchers."I'm just trying to use his ability and the way he plays against these guys," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It's nice to get him engaged. He plays well against these guys and those other guys [Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor] need a break, too. "I don't think there will be too much running with Cliff Lee on the mound. He has a good quick move to first, but if they try something, we've got a shot." This is only Teagarden's second start since being called up for September. The last was on Sept. 6, as the Rangers have been going with Molina and Treanor behind the plate. They figure to continue that arrangement during the playoffs. Teagarden began the season as the Rangers' backup catcher but was sent down after starting the season 1-for-27. He spent another month with the Rangers from July 24 to Aug. 23, when Treanor went on the disabled list but was sent down again until rosters were expanded in September. If he'd had a better start to the season, he might be one of the catchers on a playoff team rather being left off the postseason roster. "You can always look at it that way," Teagarden said. "If I didn't get off to a bad start, it might be a different complexion for the whole team. But things happen for a reason. This has still been exciting. "I know I haven't played that much, but it has been fun being around the guys and trying to clinch the division title. There is a lot of positive energy here. It's been a lot of fun being a part of this so far."
Hamilton continues to make progress
OAKLAND -- Josh Hamilton, who is sidelined with small fractures in two bones in his right rib cage, continues to report improvement in that area. The Rangers' outfielder had two injections on Tuesday to relieve the pain and inflammation.Hamilton did a stationary bicycle for 15 minutes and some light exercises to strengthen his core and abdominal muscles. Dr. Robert Watkins, the back specialist who is now treating Hamilton, wants him to build up the muscles in those areas before resuming baseball activities. "Today was the first day I got my breath going and was out of breath," said Hamilton, who has found deep breathing painful because of the injury. "That's encouraging. The shots seem to be helping with the pain factor. I'm going to keep doing something every day as long as it's not setting me back." Hamilton injured himself falling into the center-field wall while making a catch on Sept 4 in Minneapolis and has not played since then. The Rangers, going into Thursday, had 11 games left in the season and Hamilton is still hoping to play in at least the final three. That would allow for 12-15 at-bats in preparation for the playoffs.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.