© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
05/14/08 12:05 AM ET
Blalock nearing return to Rangers
Third baseman likely to play rehab game on Thursday
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Hank Blalock could return to the Rangers' lineup as early as Friday against the Astros. Marlon Byrd and Milton Bradley could be ready that night as well. Blalock, who has been on the disabled list since April 25 with a partially torn hamstring muscle, ran the bases on Tuesday and went through a full workout in the field. Afterward, he said the leg is 100 percent. "My mind feels good about it, too," Blalock said. "Three days ago my mind was still thinking about me coming back, but now I know I'm completely healed because my mind has let it go." The plan is for Blalock to go through another workout before Wednesday's game, then join Double-A Frisco for a game against Midland on a medical rehabilitation assignment. He would play third base on Thursday and possibly rejoin the Rangers on Friday. But he may be with Frisco for more than one game, because the Rangers want to make sure he's 100 percent before activating him off the disabled list. Texas manager Ron Washington still is wary of bringing back Blalock too quickly, and the skipper wants to make sure he's ready before making a final decision. "We're going to work him again tomorrow and take him through some strenuous stuff tomorrow, and if he gets through that, we'll get him out of here," Washington said before the Rangers' game on Tuesday against the Mariners. "Let's see how it goes. With a hamstring, you can do it fine under controlled conditions. But once you're out in game conditions, you can tell. So we'll find out. He's been passing all the tests so far." The Rangers also should get Byrd back soon. He has been sidelined for three weeks with a bruised knee, but going into Tuesday, he was 4-for-12 in his first three games of a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma. Byrd could be activated for Wednesday's game or by the time the Rangers play the Astros. Bradley isn't on the disabled list, but he was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday with a strained right shoulder. Washington said the problem has been bothering Bradley for a while, but it really flared up when he swung at and missed a high pitch in the sixth inning of Monday's game. Frank Catalanotto pinch-hit for him the next time up. Bradley probably won't play on Wednesday in the day game. "[The team doctor] seemed to think a day off would be good," Washington said. "I'm not going to push him out there in a day game, so he might get two off. He just needs a day off. It's been bothering him for a long time. He's been fighting through it. I think he really irritated it last night when he swung at that pitch over his head." Bradley, who is hitting .311 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 122 at-bats, has been dealing with a variety of issues, including his surgically repaired right knee, sore hamstrings and now, the Rangers reveal, a sore shoulder. He still has been in the Texas lineup for 34 of its first 40 games, but 27 of them have been at DH. Bradley has started just seven games in the field. "That's OK," Washington said. "He's in the lineup. I think he's been doing some pretty good damage in the DH spot. I want him to play in the field, but not until he's ready to go out there. I start trying to play him in the field when he's not ready, and then you might be talking about the DL."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.