ST. PETERSBURG -- Josh Hamilton made a decision early Wednesday morning before he arrived at Tropicana Field. He is trying to quit using smokeless tobacco."Today is the first day," Hamilton said before the Rangers' series finale with the Rays. "The Holy Spirit ... I kept waking up last night thinking about different things and what might be causing me to stumble in my relationship with the Lord. I felt like chewing tobacco was one. So I got up this morning and threw it all away. So when it is time to take a dip, I pray instead." Smokeless tobacco has been banned in the Minor Leagues since 1993, and Commissioner Bud Selig wants it banned at the Major League level. He sent a letter at the beginning of the season to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that he wanted to ban it at the Major League level, but needs the consent of the Players Association. It is one of the issues being discussed in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Former Rangers manager Bobby Valentine wrote in the New York Times that "smokeless tobacco use among high school boys has climbed 36 percent since 2003. The tobacco industry is spending record sums to market smokeless products, and is promoting them as a substitute for cigarettes. Major League players who chew tobacco on the field are, in effect, providing free advertising for these efforts." Hamilton knew that his habit of chewing tobacco was not setting a good example. "I didn't care," Hamilton said. "I'm human, I like to feed my fleshly desires just like anybody else does. But there comes a point when you realize those things aren't important or necessary." Hamilton cares now and has shed far worse habits. He was able to overcome a serious drug and alcohol addiction that took away 3 1/2 years from the game and almost completely ruined his baseball career. He's not sure, though, that he'll completely shed himself of all bad habits. "I'm sure I'll pick up more," Hamilton said. "I won't try, but I'm sure I will. There is always stuff you have to deal with. You just have to limit the number."
Harrison scratched from start with blister
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Harrison, who has not allowed a run in his last 16 1/3 innings, is being scratched from his start against the Indians on Thursday because of a blister on the index finger of his left hand.Harrison had to come out of his last start against the Royals on Saturday after six scoreless innings because of the blister, and it did not improve enough for him to pitch on Thursday. David Bush is expected to start instead. Harrison played catch in the outfield before Wednesday's game against the Rays, and he said the blister was still too raw to pitch effectively. Harrison had thrown in the bullpen on Tuesday with tape on the blister. He tried without the tape on Wednesday, and it did not go well. "It started getting raw again," Harrison said. "We're going to try and get it healed up and go from there." Harrison is 5-4 with a 3.26 ERA on the season, and 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his last three starts. "It's definitely frustrating not being able to throw tomorrow," Harrison said. "But it's better to get it taken care of now rather than go out and pitch two innings and have to come out again." Bush has made two spot starts for the Rangers this season, once when Colby Lewis had to go on paternity leave and another when Alexi Ogando had to miss a start because of a blister problem. The veteran has a 2.57 ERA in those two starts. "It's just like any other time. I've got to be ready for anything," Bush said. "I'm prepared to go long every day. There's nothing different. I'll pitch as long as I can, and be honest with the coaches as to how I feel."
Lefty Rhodes could move into specialist role
ST. PETERSBURG -- Arthur Rhodes may start being used as a situational left-hander. Rhodes, who gave up a two-run home run to Rays right-handed slugger Evan Longoria on Tuesday night, went into Wednesday's game holding opposing left-handers to a .190 batting average.But right-handers were hitting .300 off him with three home runs in 30 at-bats, and that may force manager Ron Washington to re-think how he uses Rhodes. "He has been a guy who has been able to go through a lineup when it is left-right-left-right," Washington said. "But with his struggles, I've got to protect him more. When I bring him in, I've got to make sure I have protection." That means Washington will likely have a right-hander warming up in the bullpen. Washington didn't have one warming up on Tuesday, and Rhodes ended up facing Longoria. "When I have Arthur in there, I'll have a right-hander ready in case," Washington said. "That doesn't mean a right-hander is coming in." Right-handers hit .182 off Rhodes last season with the Reds. They have hit .243 off him in his career.
Wilson hits strikeout milestone
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson struck out 10 batters in Tuesday night's 5-4 loss to the Rays. That's the fourth time in 12 starts that Wilson has struck out at least 10 batters in a game.He is the first left-handed pitcher in Rangers history to have at least four 10-strikeout games in a season. Cliff Lee had three such games in his time with Texas last season. Wilson, as of Wednesday morning, was fifth in the American League with 75 strikeouts, and 10th in the league with 8.30 strikeouts per nine innings. Wilson also had 41 strikeouts for the month of May. That is the most ever in May by a Rangers pitcher. Jose Guzman struck out 40 in May 1988, and Nolan Ryan matched that in May 1989. The 41 strikeouts were also the second highest for any Rangers left-hander in a single month. Lee had 47 last August.
The Rangers will be without both pitching coach Mike Maddux and outfield coach Gary Pettis for parts of their four-game series with the Indians this weekend. Both are attending high school graduations for daughter, Lexie Maddux, and son, Kyler Pettis.Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins will serve as pitching coach on Saturday and Sunday, and will be assisted by Minor League pitching coordinator Danny Clark. Triple-A manager Bobby Jones will serve as first-base coach on Friday through Saturday while Pettis is away from the team.
Round Rock right-hander Neil Ramirez was removed from his start Tuesday night in Oklahoma City as a precaution, after he was struck in the right forearm/elbow by a comebacker to the mound. Ramirez was evaluated at the stadium and sent for X-rays, which were negative. He has been diagnosed with a contusion. Ramirez pitched three scoreless innings before being removed. Wednesday was the birthday for Rangers broadcaster Eleno Ornelas. Julio Borbon was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases on rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Tuesday.
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.