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04/13/07 10:00 PM ET
Notes: Loe ready to fill in for Wright
Spring Training standout gets ball April 21 against A's
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Kameron Loe wants the ball, and the Rangers are ready to give it to him. Loe will go back into the rotation when the club needs a fifth starter on April 21 against the Oakland Athletics, manager Ron Washington said on Friday evening. Loe will replace Jamey Wright, who was placed on the disabled list on Friday with inflammation in his right shoulder. "Kam was our best starting pitcher in Spring Training," Washington said. "We told him when we asked him to go to the bullpen that if anything happened in the rotation, then he would get a chance." "I'm ready," Loe said. "I want the ball, and I've let them know in the past that's where I want to be." Wright was the Rangers' fifth starter to open the season but made just one start before developing inflammation in his right shoulder. He underwent an MRI in Texas on Friday, and the Rangers are expected to get the results on Saturday. "Then we'll go from there," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "We want to make sure everything is fine. Hopefully, it's just a little aggravation, but the last couple of times out, he hasn't thrown the ball the way he threw it in Spring Training. He wants to make sure everything is all right." As for what happens when Wright returns, Washington said, "Right now, it's Kam, and then we'll re-evaluate." Loe was a fifth-starter candidate in Spring Training, but the Rangers decided they needed him more in the bullpen. That need has lessened lately. Rangers relievers took a 2.20 ERA into Friday's game with the Mariners, their starters were averaging a healthy 6.7 innings per start and Eric Gagne was activated off the disabled list. All our factors that favor moving Loe back into the rotation. Bruce Chen would be the other candidate to start. Both he and Loe were able to work up to seven innings and approximately 80 pitches in Spring Training, but they have been working out of the bullpen since then. That means the Rangers will have to be careful with whoever goes into the rotation. "If it's been two weeks, you've still got to be cautious," Connor said. "You just don't say, he threw 80 pitches two weeks ago, he can throw 80 pitches tonight. A lot of it depends on how you get to 80 pitches, whether it's with stress-free innings, or if you have some tough innings with high pitch counts, then you have to be careful." Otsuka adjusts: The return of Gagne off the DL means Akinori Otsuka goes back to being the eighth-inning setup reliever. He was the closer for the first nine games, but Friday's home opener -- a 2-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox -- was his only save opportunity. "I just have to pitch whenever they say," Otsuka said. "I feel the same way always, whether I'm the closer or the setup reliever. I've never been told by the manager I'm going to be a setup man. I just have to do what I'm asked to do. "When Eric comes back, it will be good for the team. I'll do what I'm asked to do. That's all I can say." Washington is still planning on Gagne to be the closer, but the Rangers still have to be cautious after two years of injuries. There could be times when Otsuka will still have to close. "I have experience both as a setup man and as a closer," Otsuka said. "I know how to prepare and be ready. Even when Gagne is back, I still have to prepare as a closer, and I will be ready to do both." Jerseys to be auctioned: The Rangers will auction off the four jerseys that will be worn in honor of Jackie Robinson on Sunday. Washington, first-base coach Gary Pettis, center fielder Kenny Lofton and outfielder Jerry Hairston will wear No. 42 on Sunday, which is the 60th anniversary of Robinson's breaking baseball's color barrier. Robinson's No. 42 was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997, but players are being allowed to wear the number on Sunday. Lofton gets day off: The Rangers faced a left-handed starter for the first time this season and Lofton was giving his first day off Friday night. Jerry Hairston started in center field against Mariners left-hander Jarrod Washburn. Matt Kata also started for the first time this season in left field. The Rangers face another left-hander on Sunday when the Mariners pitch Horacio Ramirez and Washington is planning to play Lofton against him. Ramirez will be the second of three left-handers the Rangers face on the six-game trip. They also face Mark Buehrle on Wednesday in Chicago. Washington said he has no plans to give third baseman Hank Blalock a day off against any of them. "Hank is going to grind it out," Washington said. "He hasn't shown me that left-handers are giving him a problem and he hasn't shown me he's tired." He said it: "I'm excited. It's like the first day of school again." -- Gagne, after being activated on Friday Thursday's Minor Stars: Top performances from the four Minor League teams on Thursday: Gold: Eric Hurley allowed one run on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts for Double-A Frisco in the RoughRiders 6-5 victory over Arkansas. Silver: Outfielder Victor Diaz was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks for Triple-A Oklahoma and is hitting .462 through the RedHawks first seven games. Bronze: Class A Bakersfield's Chris Davis was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple in an 8-5 loss to Modesto. Briefly: The RedHawks started the season with 18 2/3 scoreless innings before giving up a run. ... Frisco outfielder Todd Donovan has been placed on the DL with a groin injury, while infielder Jim Fasano was activated. ... Pitcher Anthony Pluta was released at Bakersfield and pitcher Ryan Knippshild was sent from Frisco to Bakersfield. Up next: Vicente Padilla pitches for the Rangers against right-hander Miguel Batista for the Mariners at 2:55 p.m. CT on Saturday at Safeco Field.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.