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07/29/08 8:05 PM ET
Local boy Roberts called up by Rangers
Infielder takes roster spot vacated by injured Blalock
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- After the media blitz dissipated and his nameplate had been affixed to his locker, Ryan Roberts sank back in his chair and soaked in the sight of a Texas Rangers uniform with his name on the back. To capture the view, Roberts pulled out his camera phone and snapped a quick shot of his locker. On Tuesday, the Rangers called up Roberts from Triple-A Oklahoma to provide depth to the infield after Hank Blalock returned to the disabled list. Roberts has spent parts of 2006 and 2007 with the Blue Jays, but this is the first callup with the Rangers for Roberts, who attended L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Tex., and the University of Texas-Arlington. The uniform hanging in his locker was No. 29. He wore No. 4 with Oklahoma, but the Rangers didn't ask him what number he would like, and he wasn't going to be picky. "I've been a lot of numbers, but I've never been 29," Roberts said. "It's my fourth number. It's significant because it's my first number in my first callup with basically my hometown team. But it could be No. 70 and it'd still be significant for me." Now that he's up with the Rangers, Roberts is just waiting to hear his number called by manager Ron Washington. Roberts said he had 35 friends and family in attendance, hoping to see him play on Tuesday night. "We have to wait and see," Washington said. "If these guys don't stay healthy, I'll have to put him in there. I like what I saw from him in Spring Training." In his two previous Major League stints, Roberts hit .077 in 26 at-bats. But at Oklahoma this season, he hit .284 with 21 doubles, eight home runs, 50 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. In his last five games, Roberts was 10-for-21 with two home runs and seven RBIs. His two long balls and seven RBIs all came in the same inning of a game on July 26. Roberts, in effect, replaces German Duran, who served as a backup utility player earlier in the year when Blalock was on the disabled list. Duran himself is currently on the disabled list after having ligament replacement surgery on his left thumb. However, Washington said Roberts' playing time will depend on how often the Rangers face left-handed pitching, and how good the left-handed pitching is. Left-handed hitter Ramon Vazquez will get most of the starts at third base. Roberts hasn't hurt his odds of cracking the lineup by playing second base, third base and shortstop with an equal share of his time in Oklahoma. He said he also played left field when Oklahoma didn't have any other options. "I pretty much just stood out there and asked [teammate Nelson Cruz] if I should move forward or backward," Roberts said. "I just looked for where the dead grass was to know where to stand."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.