ARLINGTON -- The storm that sent dozens of tornadoes ripping through the South touched home for a couple of Rangers.

Mitch Moreland is from Amory, Miss., and his parents lost power for three or four days when the local power plant was hit. He also had family friends from Smithville, Miss., whose houses were completely wiped out by the storm. But, from what he's heard, everybody is OK.

"The town probably five minutes from where I grew up got hit pretty hard, but everybody is OK as far as I know," Moreland said. "I know my mom and pop were without power for three or four days, but they're doing OK."

Julio Borbon went to college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and still has several friends living in the area. He said everyone he talked with was able to evacuate.

"I talked to a couple of people and they're doing OK, they were able to get out of the area," Borbon said. "Things don't look too good with all that went down, but my friends down there said they're doing OK and said their families are doing OK."

Tucker relishes another chance in the Majors

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington got straight to the point in assessing the state of his bullpen.

"It's obvious we're hurt, everybody knows that, so why talk about it?" Washington said. "It's not going to matter. We're just playing baseball. ... We're not protecting anybody anymore."

That means right-hander Ryan Tucker will get a chance to show he belongs back in the Majors. Tucker, who was called up on Wednesday when Darren O'Day headed to the 60-day disabled list, has been waiting for this moment for a couple of years.

Tucker last pitched in the big leagues for the Florida Marlins in 2008, posting an 8.27 ERA in 13 games, including six starts. After questioning whether he belonged at this level, Tucker got a fresh start when the Rangers acquired him off waivers in October and he has regained his confidence and velocity.

"I lost my confidence the last few years, but coming here I felt welcomed and they gave me an opportunity," said Tucker, who was 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA and a save in six appearances at Triple-A Round Rock. "I'm throwing the ball well, and feel my fastball is coming along. I'm throwing it for strikes, and the velocity is coming back."

Asked what Tucker's role would be, Washington simply said: "His role is to pitch when I get him the ball."

Rangers return to scene of division clincher

ARLINGTON -- The last time the Texas Rangers visited Oakland, it ended up being a pretty good trip. After all, it's where they clinched the 2010 American League West title last September.

The Rangers are heading back to the Bay Area after Thursday's matinee for the first time this season, beginning a four-game series on Friday night. It's the first leg of a seven-game, seven-day trip to Oakland and Seattle.

"I enjoy going there, but it's a load," said Washington, who spent 11 seasons as the A's third-base coach. "There's a lot of emotions, you can't get rid of that, but it's a lot easier to carry when you win."

Washington said he believes the A's are a more complete team this year, too, with pitching, speed and defense. He also mentioned Oakland's improvement on offense with the acquisitions of Hideki Matsui and David DeJesus.

"They play a different game, and bring a different dimension," Washington said. "In the past, you didn't have to worry about them on the basepaths. But now they're hitting and running and bunting and playing baseball. They're a different team.

"I expect them to hang around [in the division hunt], just like everybody else. The only team that might not be able to hang around is Seattle, but they can be a [spoiler]."

Washington's boots are made for winning

ARLINGTON -- Even before he became manager of the Texas Rangers, Ron Washington liked cowboy boots. He owned four pairs of boots -- shark skin, lizard skin, snake skin and eel skin -- but lost them all in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Justin Boots, headquartered in Fort Worth, replaced the boots Washington had lost. And it presented Washington, along with Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, with another pair of boots before Thursday's game -- black calfskin ones designed to celebrate the Rangers' run to the American League title last season.

"I like cowboy boots," Washington said. "I don't wear them all the time, but on the road I wear them a lot. They go with jeans, and they're comfortable." That's not the only thing that has Washington becoming a true Texan, either. "I've also got a 10-gallon hat that was given to me by the Mayor of Fort Worth [Mike Moncrief]," he said.

Worth noting

Borbon went out to lunch with his former college teammate, Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, earlier this week. "He was one of those guys who was always up to go to the cage at 10 or 11 a.m., and always had that go-getter mentality," Borbon said. "It's no surprise he's here today." ... Washington said the team hasn't decided whether closer Neftali Feliz, sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, will need to go on a rehab assignment before he is activated. He can come off the disabled list on May 6. ... Double-A Frisco outfielder Engel Beltre was suspended for 15 games by the Texas League for his altercation with fans after Tuesday's game in San Antonio. The suspension began on Wednesday. ... Rangers reliever Darren O'Day, on the 60-day disabled list with a partial tear of the labrum in left hip, underwent a successful surgery by Dr. Tom Byrd in Nashville on Thursday afternoon. O'Day will be on crutches for 5-7 days, and will begin his rehab immediately.