HOUSTON -- Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman went 2-for-3 with a home run for Triple-A Round Rock against Salt Lake on Saturday in his first game on rehabilitation assignment.
Berkman is expected to play at least two more games, and if all goes well, he could be activated on the next homestand that starts Tuesday.
Berkman, a switch-hitter, struck out in his first at-bat against Salt Lake starter Jarrett Grube. But he hit a home run to left-center in his next at-bat.
Rangers option Butler to make room for Rios
HOUSTON -- The Rangers have optioned right-handed-hitting outfielder Joey Butler to Triple-A Round Rock to make room for Alex Rios. Butler played in just two games for the Rangers but was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a walk.
"It was very tough," manager Ron Washington said. "He handled himself well up here and helped us win a ballgame. He was another piece of the development system that came up here and did well."
The Rangers decided to keep Engel Beltre, a left-handed hitter, instead. Butler was called up because the Rangers wanted a right-handed-hitting outfielder to pair with David Murphy. But that was before they acquired Rios. Washington said he'll use Craig Gentry in left field in games he wants to sit Murphy.
Washington acknowledged that Gentry is his best center fielder. But he is adamantly opposed to using Leonys Martin in left field because he doesn't look too comfortable there. So the Rangers have two everyday outfielders with Martin in center and Rios in right. Murphy and Gentry will handle left, and Beltre will be an extra player off the bench.
Butler is one of five players in Rangers history with more than two at-bats and a batting average of .500 or better. Steve Balboni was 3-for-5 (.600) as a 1993 September callup, Milt Cuyler was 3-for-6 for the Rangers in 1998 and Kevin Richardson was 3-for-6 in 2009. In addition, Alexi Ogando is 3-for-6 as a pitcher hitting in National League parks.
Butler should get more at-bats as a September callup when the rosters expand to 40 players, although the Rangers are not promising anything.
"It depends on the roster, but he is certainly deserving," Washington said. "But to guarantee it, we've got to wait and see how things shake out."
Rios excited to be playing for a contender with Rangers
HOUSTON -- Alex Rios, acquired from the White Sox on Friday, made it to Houston in time to be in the Rangers' lineup for Saturday's game with the Astros. With one trade and a flight from Chicago to Houston, Rios went from a last-place team to one that was tied for first in the American League West going into Saturday.
"This is a change of scenery for my career and for the good," said Rios, who will wear No. 51 for the Rangers. "Obviously we didn't have a contending team in Chicago. Now I am on one, so hopefully we can achieve what we want to do. That's something I'm looking forward to, getting deep into the playoffs and winning the ring. I believe we have that chance."
Rios, going into Saturday, had played in 1,408 Major League games. That's the third most among all active players who have yet to appear in the postseason, behind Adam Dunn and Vernon Wells.
"I've heard that," Rios said. "It's something you don't want to be proud of. You want to be a player in the playoffs and win in the playoffs."
The Rangers acquired Rios for a player to be named later. The Rangers are expected to send infielder Leury Garcia to the White Sox to complete the deal. The Rangers made the trade four days after right fielder Nelson Cruz accepted a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball that will last to the end of the season. Rios basically replaces Cruz in the lineup.
"I don't think it's fair to compare me to him," Rios said. "We play different games. Every ballplayer is different. I have to focus on the things I have to do and stay within my game."
That was manager Ron Washington's message when Rios arrived on Saturday.
"I want to make sure he understands we didn't bring him in here to carry us," Washington said. "We just want him to fit in."
Cotts doesn't make big deal of first save since '06
HOUSTON -- Neal Cotts earned the second save of his Major League career on Friday night but didn't seem to think it was a big deal. Cotts entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. The Rangers led 7-4 at the time, and Cotts struck out the Astros' Marc Krauss to end the inning.
Joe Nathan started warming up for the ninth, but David Murphy hit an RBI double to give the Rangers a 9-4 lead. So Cotts went out to pitch the ninth and ended up getting the save despite allowing a run. It was his first save since April 30, 2006.
"I just kind of fell into it," Cotts said. "If we don't score more runs, I come out of the game and Joe is in there."
Nathan has 33 saves while Cotts, Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman each have one. The Rangers have 36 saves in 42 opportunities going into Saturday for a success rate of 85.7 percent that is the highest in the Major Leagues. Their six blown saves are the fewest.
"We're down there for a purpose -- to get out of innings any way we can," Cotts said. "As long as we get outs ... some of us, any of us."
• Pitcher Nick Tepesch, on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, remains limited to throwing long toss on flat ground. Tepesch could start throwing off a mound sometime next week.
• Pitcher Matt Harrison, who left Friday's rehabilitation start at Round Rock after 60 pitches, will be examined by Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington on Monday. Harrison left the game with numbness in his left hand. Harrison told the Rangers the symptoms were better later Friday night, but the Rangers won't know more until after Monday's exam.
• Adrian Beltre went into Saturday's game having driven in a run in seven straight games. The club record is 11 in a row by Larry Parrish in 1984.
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.