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06/24/08 8:00 PM ET

Catalanotto focused on playing ball

First baseman's at-bats to diminish when Blalock returns

HOUSTON -- Frank Catalanotto is still in the Rangers lineup, as his day of reckoning keeps getting pushed back.

Catalanotto is expected to lose his job when Hank Blalock is activated off the disabled list, but that may not be until the Rangers return home to Arlington on Friday. So Catalanotto will keep on swinging until he hears otherwise.

"Once Hank comes back, I assume my playing time will lessen by a bunch," Catalanotto said. "But it seems like every time he seems to be coming back, he has a little setback. It's allowed me to get in the lineup and take it from there."

The Rangers had hoped to activate Blalock from the disabled list on Tuesday, but that plan was scratched when he jammed his right hand on Sunday in a medical rehabilitation game at Triple-A Oklahoma. That was the second of three games that Blalock was supposed to play before being activated. He still hasn't played that third game.

Blalock was not in the Oklahoma lineup on Monday or Tuesday because of soreness in the hand. The RedHawks are off on Wednesday, so Blalock will join the Rangers in Houston. He'll work out with the team before the game with the Astros and then the Rangers will decide what to do with him.

Blalock played seven innings on Sunday. The Rangers were hoping he would play a full nine-inning game before they activated him.

"That was the plan when we sent him out," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "If he works out with the club on Wednesday and shows remarkable improvement, then we might do something, but that was our plan and desire."

So Catalanotto gets at least two more starts. He was in the lineup on Tuesday and should be back out there on Wednesday when the Rangers face right-hander Roy Oswalt. The Rangers will face a left-hander on Thursday, so Catalanotto will sit and Max Ramirez will play first.

"I've been around a long enough to know that when you come to the ballpark and if your name is in the lineup, you go out and play," Catalanotto said. "If it's not, then you don't play, you just be ready to play later on in the game."

Catalanotto and Chris Shelton have been platooning at first base for the past six weeks while the specter of Blalock's return -- plus switching from third to first -- looms over the situation. Catalanotto has not let it bother him. He went into Tuesday's game hitting .313 (21-for-67) in his last 28 games.

"Obviously, the more you play, the more comfortable you feel and the more you get into a rhythm," Catalanotto said. "That's been good for me, but no matter what happens when Hank comes back, I've still got to perform. You can't make excuses. Hank coming back means my playing time will lessen, but I've still got to perform and help the team when I get in there."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.