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04/13/08 2:57 PM ET
Rangers send down reliever Fukumori
Shaky regular-season outings seal right-hander's fate for now
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Kazuo Fukumori may have been the Rangers best reliever in Spring Training, but by his own admission, he has been the worst during the regular season. He's only made three appearances, but the Rangers saw enough and have optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma to make room for Scott Feldman. Fukumori didn't allow a run in 10 innings over eight games in Spring Training, but allowed six runs on six hits and four walks in his first three appearances. "I expected to see what I saw in Spring Training, but for one reason or another it wasn't there," manager Ron Washington said. "He needs to find the strike zone. Inconsistent control is what he has shown. He had good zip on his fastball, but he needs to get the ball over the plate with consistency." The Rangers signed Fukumori to a one-year contract in the offseason with options for 2009 and 2010. He had elbow surgery last summer but said that was not a factor in the way he pitched. "I'm the worst in the bullpen, so I expected this," Fukumori said before the Rangers game with the Blue Jays on Sunday. "This is the obvious decision because of my results. I have to do my best in the Minor Leagues and hope that I can come back." The Rangers are expected to make another roster move after Sunday's game. Feldman, after making a spot start against the Blue Jays, is expected to be sent out and the Rangers will bring back another reliever -- either Wes Littleton, Kameron Loe or Frank Francisco. Francisco has not given up a run in four appearances but the Rangers may need a reliever who can pitch multiple innings. That may point to Loe or Littleton. "We haven't decided yet," Washington said. The Rangers had concerns that Jamey Wright might need to go on the disabled list because of a strained oblique muscle. That wasn't the case. Wright continues to report significant improvement in his left side and is close to being available again. He is also getting a promotion with Fukumori being sent down and Eddie Guardado on the disabled list. Wright made the team as a long/middle reliever, but Washington said he'll start using him as a seventh-inning setup reliever. "Once we get the bullpen straightened out, [Wright] will be a one-inning guy, rather than two or three," Washington said. "If that's the case, the bullpen should set up pretty good." Guardado is on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder, backdated to April 5. He is eligible to come off on Sunday in Boston and the Rangers expect him to be ready on that date.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.