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07/28/08 7:52 PM ET
Blalock a late scratch Monday night
Upset stomach sidelines third baseman, Vazquez makes start
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Hank Blalock was a last-minute scratch from the Rangers' starting lineup on Monday with an upset stomach. Initial reports indicated that Blalock would be available to pinch-hit if needed. With Blalock out of the lineup, Ramon Vazquez will again assume his role of fill-in guy. While Vazquez has been gone from the starting lineup since Blalock returned from the disabled list on July 18, the club remembers -- and appreciates -- all he did filling in for Blalock. "Nobody's forgotten what he's done for us, really," manager Ron Washington said. Monday will mark Vazquez's first start since July 13 -- Texas' last game before the All-Star break. Entering Monday, Vazquez was hitting .309 with 31 RBIs and 38 runs scored, posting most of those numbers while Blalock was recovering from a torn left hamstring and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome surgery for almost three months. When Blalock was activated from the disabled list and returned to starting duties at third base -- forming a formidable offensive infield alongside shortstop Michael Young, second baseman Ian Kinsler and first baseman Chris Davis -- Vazquez became the odd man out. Washington would like to get Vazquez back in the lineup, but with a healthy infield, that just hasn't been possible. "Hank's an everyday player, Mike [Young is] an everyday player, Kinsler's an everyday player," Washington said. "Those are the only three positions he can play. He's a utility player, he's back in his role. I know he's filled in great for us so far. I want to get him in there if I can." Vazquez' best chance at getting back in the starting lineup is if the Texas heat wears down one of the guys in front of him during the Rangers' 11-game homestand, which opened Monday night. Then again, another Ranger could always get an upset stomach right before game time. "I want to try to get Vazquez back in there if I can," Washington said. "But Mike isn't tired. Kinsler isn't tired. Hank's been out for a while, so you know he's not tired. And I can't take Chris Davis out of the lineup and let Vazquez play first base."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.