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04/08/07 8:30 PM ET
Notes: Gagne may ease into closer role
Righty expected to be activated from disabled list Friday
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Eric Gagne is still on track to be activated on Friday in Seattle, but the Rangers may take their time getting him back into the closer's role. Nothing has been decided for certain, but manager Ron Washington said that's something they talked about on Sunday after he came away from consecutive outings for Double-A Frisco without any physical problems. Gagne has one more outing for Frisco on Tuesday and then is expected to be activated on Friday when the Rangers open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners. After that, it's just a matter of how soon the Rangers want to put him back in the closer's role. His first few appearances may be in a non-save situation. "We've thought about it," Washington said. "It's something we've discussed. We'll see how he recovers and how everything goes when he pitches Tuesday. We want him to be right." Gagne, who started the season on the disabled list while recovering from major back and elbow surgeries incurred over the past two years, said he feels like he is Major League ready. He said his curveball is the best it has ever been. "I've been in the big leagues for seven years," Gagne said. "The worst-case scenario is I give up a run and we lose the game. I can live with that. It might put other people at ease if they ease me back in, but I don't feel the need to be in an easy situation." If they did it, Washington said it would only be a temporary situation. "If Gagne is here, he's going to be the closer," Washington said. Pitching in back-to-back games was a big test for Gagne, and he said he made it through without problems. He pitched one inning on Friday and another on Saturday and his fastball was clocked at 91-92 mph. "I'm not worried about that," Gagne said. "Most if it is location. If I'm loose and the arm is strong, I should be able to throw it where I want it." Mahay moves up: A year ago on this date, Ron Mahay was a 34-year-old left-hander pitching at Triple-A Oklahoma. A 6.81 ERA from the previous season put him there. Now he is establishing himself as the Rangers' No. 1 late-inning left-handed reliever, looking even better than he did last season when he returned from the Minors on April 23 and posted a 3.95 ERA. The Rangers needed him in the seventh and eighth innings on Saturday night when the game was still in doubt. He bailed the Rangers out of a two-on, one-out situation in the seventh by getting J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell, then he pitched a scoreless eighth to uphold a four-run lead. It's been awhile since he was asked to pitch in a primetime assignment such as that. "I'm throwing strike one," Mahay said. "It's always been an up-and-down thing, not only for me but for any big-league pitcher. Ask anybody, and they'll tell you strike one is a big key, plus having confidence in what you're throwing. If not, you're going to be scared and not throwing 100 percent behind every pitch you throw." Lofton stays in: Center fielder Kenny Lofton was the only outfielder to start the Rangers' first six games. He went into Sunday's game with just two hits in 20 at-bats, but Washington has no plans to rest him anytime soon. "He's a veteran. He'll figure it out," Washington said. "We've played only five games. The only way I'll take him out of the lineup is he says he's tired. But there's nothing physically wrong with him." Instead Nelson Cruz sat with veteran Curt Schilling on the mound for the Red Sox. "I just wanted to get a veteran lineup out there," Washington said. "Schilling is one of those veterans who will take a youngster to school." Saturday's Minor Stars: The top three performances from the four Minor League teams on Saturday: Gold: Double-A Frisco pitcher Armando Galarraga pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and three walks with five strikeouts in a 1-0 loss to Arkansas. Silver: Class A Clinton starter Glenn Swanson threw six scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory over Quad Cities. He allowed two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four. Bronze: Chad Tracy went 2-for-6 with a double, a home run and three RBIs in Clinton's doubleheader against Quad Cities. He said it: "It wasn't fun. It wasn't pretty." -- Ian Kinsler, back in the lineup after a one-day bout with the stomach flu Briefly: Washington said he is still planning to catch Chris Stewart on Monday. ... Going into Sunday's game, the Rangers had gone 25 innings without making an error after committing five in their first 17 innings. ... Mark Teixeira was presented with his Gold Glove for defensive excellence at first base before Sunday's game. He was won the award in each of the last two seasons. Up next: The Rangers open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Brandon McCarthy will make his first home start for Texas.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.