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05/21/08 8:24 PM ET
Blalock to start at first in return from DL
Infielder adjusting to new position in Extended Spring Training
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rangers are ready for Hank Blalock to rejoin them in Cleveland and take over at first base. Blalock, on the disabled list with a partially torn hamstring muscle, played five innings in an extended Spring Training game in Surprise, Ariz., on Wednesday and seems to be passing all the tests. That includes both testing out the injured hamstring muscle and learning to play first base. Blalock had a couple of hits in the game and was able to score from first base on a double. He also played five innings at first, then took in extra work after the game with Rangers Minor League field coordinator Dave Anderson. Rangers manager Ron Washington spoke with Anderson after the workout. "Hank is coming along good," Washington said. "He's making all the adjustments and almost looking like a first baseman. It won't take Hank long. He's already an infielder, he's just moving to the other side. He's got an idea of how to play first base." Blalock is expected to be the Rangers' regular first baseman when he is activated off the disabled list on Friday. Frank Catalanotto and Chris Shelton have been platooning at first base of late. But Catalanotto was unable to go Wednesday because of a sore back. He's not likely to play Thursday either, meaning Shelton will likely start two games in a row against right-handers. Shelton did earn one accolade Tuesday night against the Twins. He made a terrific diving stop on Delmon Young's first-inning grounder, a play that earned him No. 1 on ESPN's nightly top plays. "First time ever," Shelton said. Washington missed the highlight. "When we lose, I don't look at ESPN," he said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.