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06/01/07 11:50 PM ET
Notes: Sosa not concerned with 600th
Slugger says milestone not to blame for homer drought
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The march to 600 home runs has slowed down for Rangers designated hitter Sammy Sosa. Sosa went into Friday's game with just three home runs in his last 105 at-bats after hitting seven in his first 75. Manager Ron Washington thought Sosa might be pressing as he approached the historical milestone. Sosa says no. "Not in my case," Sosa said before Friday's game with the Mariners. "I'm telling you, I'm not thinking about that. Don't get my wrong. It's a nice number. It's going to happen. It could happen in any moment with just two swings." Sosa, going into Friday's game, was two home runs away from being the fifth player in Major League history to hit 600 home runs in his career. The others are Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. Sosa's still driving in runs. In those last 105 at-bats, he still had 20 RBIs and hit .302 with runners in scoring position. He just hasn't been going deep with the same frequency. "I'm doing my job," Sosa said. "I'm getting base hits. I don't have it in my mind about 600 home runs. I'm going up there looking to make good contact. If I do that and the ball gets in the air, it's going to go. "Players go through different moments. Sometimes you don't make good contact and you miss pitches. If it was easy, we would all be doing it. Right now, I'm just looking to drive in runs. Sometimes I come up empty. The pitchers make good pitches on me. Most of the time, I'm going to give you good at-bats. We still have 100-something games to go. It's only two swings. It's going to happen." Cruz takes a seat: Nelson Cruz's playing time has been sporadic, but he has been playing against left-handers. He was on the bench on Friday, however, with left-hander Jarrod Washburn on the mound for the Mariners. Kenny Lofton has been the one who has been sitting against lefties, but he started in center on Friday with Marlon Byrd in left field and Victor Diaz in right. "Kenny hasn't started against left-handers, but some left-handers don't bother him," Washington said. "Washburn is not one of those left-handers who bother lefties, so I left Kenny in there to see if he can be a catalyst, Diaz hasn't played in a while, so I got him in there to see if he can help the middle of our order." Cruz went into Friday's game hitless in his last 12 at-bats and had just one hit in his last 19. But he had an extra long session with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo in the indoor batting cage before Friday's game. "I do that every day," Cruz said. "It's getting better. The results aren't, but I feel my swing is getting better. I'm just disappointed because I want to see results," Cruz is hitting .193 with three home runs and 12 RBIs, and the Rangers have another roster decision to make on Tuesday when Jerry Hairston Jr. is expected to come off the disabled list. Cruz has started just three of the Rangers' last eight games. Rheinecker an option: Left-hander John Rheinecker has thrown 11 scoreless innings in his first two starts at Triple-A Oklahoma and pitching coach Mark Connor said Rheinecker will get consideration the next time the Rangers need a start. Rheinecker, who was 4-6 with a 5.86 ERA in 21 games, including 13 starts last season, began the season on the disabled list because of a back problem but is starting to come quickly because of a changeup that he's able to use against right-handed hitters. "John is basically at the point where he would be leaving Spring Training and starting a Major League season," Connor said. "I'm hearing a lot of good things about him. The biggest thing is his changeup. He struggled with it all last year. Most good left-handers have a good changeup, but it wasn't as consistent as it needs to be." Wright watch: Jamey Wright made his first start on rehab assignment for Oklahoma on Thursday and allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five. Connor received a good report from Minor League pitching coordinator Rick Adair on the outing and said Wright could be an option at the Major League level after one more start. The Rangers would like to get him up to 90 pitches next time out. Otsuka struggles: Akinori Otsuka has allowed four runs in his last two outings and said he's just missing his location. But Connor said he sees something else. "We're not getting him in enough situations to get his adrenaline flowing," Connor said. "He's been in one game where we had the lead in the last 2 1/2 weeks. He's not used to doing what he's been doing. He has been doing it well, but he's got some frustrations. We're all frustrated along those lines." Thursday's Minor stars: Top performances from Thursday's Minor League games: Gold -- Double-A Frisco pitcher Edinson Volquez is now 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA after four starts for the Roughriders. He beat Wichita, 8-3, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Silver -- Catcher Kevin Richardson and outfielder Anthony Webster were both 3-for-5 for Frisco. Richardson hit his eighth home run. Bronze -- Outfielder Jason Botts was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored for Oklahoma in a loss to Salt Lake City. Up next: Right-hander Kameron Loe (1-4, 6.17 ERA) pitches for the Rangers at 9:05 p.m. CT on Saturday against the Mariners at Safeco Field. Right-hander Miguel Batista (5-4, 5.72) pitches for the Mariners.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.