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06/21/10 4:56 PM ET

Inbox: Will Harden stay in rotation?

Rangers beat reporter T.R. Sullivan fields fans' questions

If Tommy Hunter continues to pitch well, who gets bumped from the rotation when Derek Holland comes back? Could this be a dangerous time for Rich Harden or will one of them [Holland or Hunter] go back down to the Minors?
-- Brad M. Abilene, Texas

My feeling is once Harden is ready, pitches in medical rehabilitation assignment, proves he is healthy and goes back into the rotation. Then there are no excuses. He either pitches to the Rangers' satisfaction over a fair period of assessment or is let go. Holland looks like he'll need some rehab time in the Minors before he's ready, but I still feel Harden deserves first shot. The Rangers signed him for a reason, now they need to see if their assessment was valid.

Now that the draft is over, who is the player that the Rangers picked that would be considered a steal? Who in your opinion will make an impact at the Major League level the fastest?
-- Jeff B. Dallas

No-brainer. Jordan Akins. He was the Rangers' third-round pick out of Union Grove (Ga.) High School. He is a 6-foot-4 football player with tremendous physical talent, who could be a big power bat and a strong arm suited for right field. This is the kind of player missing from the Rangers' system. This was easily their best pick and he could have a big impact in 3-4 years. Remember Hank Blalock was a third-rounder.

If Seattle continues to struggle and decides to trade Cliff Lee, would there be any possibility of a trade within the division to bring him to Texas or is that still a virtual impossibility? What would it take to land him?
-- Eric J. Austin, Texas

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Lee is the Rangers' No. 1 target. The concerns about trading within the division are way overrated. If the Rangers offer the best package, they'll get him. It has to be a substantial package of 3-4 prospects, at least. We're talking Martin Perez, Blake Beavan, Tanner Scheppers ... that level. Lee is pitching lights-out for the Mariners. They will demand much and the Rangers' ownership situation must be resolved for the club to be able to handle the financial aspects of the deal.

Who do you think is better, Roy Oswalt or Matt Cain? How much would it cost to get him?
-- A.M. M. Smithfield, Va.

Cain. Doesn't matter. Giants aren't selling. They have the best pitching in the National League and are going to the World Series. The Rangers like Oswalt but really want Lee.

Do you see there being a fit for Dan Haren? Would he cost too much in salary? Prospects?
-- James S. San Antonio

Word is Haren is available but it would take much to get him. Probably 2-3 quality young players. Definitely worth exploring. Haren is 29, he is working toward a sixth consecutive 200-inning season and, after this season, he has two years and an option left for a total value of $41 million. Just beware of pitchers who are brought in from West Coast teams. Many favorable pitcher's parks out there on the shores of the Pacific.

With the Rangers needing a veteran pitcher, what's the chance of the Rangers signing Jarrod Washburn?
-- Alex M. Carrollton, Texas

Don't sense any interest on the Rangers' part. Not sure how much he's thrown and if he would be ready to go any quicker than Holland.

Despite his success as a closer, can you see Neftali Feliz starting ballgames for us soon considering the state of our rotation?
-- James A. Fayetteville, Ark.

No. Just imagine the state of the bullpen without Feliz as the closer. Nothing is certain but his future seems to have been decided.

Can you address the catching situation for the remainder of this year, and potentially the offseason, with Matt Treanor, Max Ramirez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden?
-- Frank C. Dallas

It seemed like Saltalamacchia was close to returning but the Rangers are content with Treanor and Ramirez behind the plate. They are winning with that tandem. If the Rangers experience a reversal of fortune, no doubt catching will be among the first areas examined. But right now Saltalamacchia stays in Oklahoma City, Teagarden stays in Frisco and there is no way right now to foresee what will happen in the offseason.

So what are the odds of re-signing Vladimir Guerrero? I know that if he continues what he's doing his price goes up, but will the Rangers fork it over?
-- Shawn B. El Reno, Okla.

The chances of re-signing Guerrero may be growing. Most significantly, he said, in Milwaukee, that he really likes being a designated hitter and isn't all that interested in returning to the outfield full-time. He likes Texas, has great respect for Ron Washington and likes his role here. Those all bode well for future discussions.

With Harden still having trouble getting past the sixth inning, is it time to say his signing is a bust?
-- Kelly N. Boyton, Okla.

No, nor should a one-year free-agent deal ever qualify as a bust. Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss, but it doesn't inflict long-term damage on the franchise like a multi-year gone sour.

Would you elaborate on the Chris Davis/Justin Smoak situation. Davis was sent down after fewer than 50 at-bats, and has shown at OKC that he has found it. Smoak is way past 100 at-bats and hasn't done any better than Davis did, so how long can you stay with him and ask fans to believe you want to win now?
-- Ron W. McKinney, Texas

First of all, Smoak is here because the Rangers believe he can help them win now. He is not here for the future. Secondly, this is a strong subject of debate within the organization. There are factions on both sides. Simply put, the prevailing opinion is the Rangers are content with Smoak for now and believe he is getting better, and are going to stick with him. Unless there is an injury, Davis is at Oklahoma City.

If the ticket time for the game is 7:05, why do they wait until 7:07 to throw out the first pitch?
-- Michelle T. Temple, Texas

It's all about giving television extra time to announce the lineups, let Tom Grieve give his analysis and throw in a few commercials. Plus, it never hurts to give the notorious late-arriving Arlington crowd a few extra minutes to find their seats.

Ron Washington seems to give more days off to starters than other managers. Is it because he was a bench player?
-- Jimmy G. Kerens, Texas

It's because of the heat in Texas. Washington understands more days off early in the season leads to stronger players in the second half of the season. Problem is, he has players who try to convince him they never need a day off.

Recently I had seats by the bullpen. I noticed the pitchers, prior to their wind-up, make a "flick" with their glove. Is that a signal or what?
-- Gregory S. Hurst, Texas

They are motioning to their catcher what type of pitch they are about to throw. In warming up, it's the pitcher who decides what pitch to throw.

When the Rangers are playing and the announcers have the day off [as Tom did on May 29 and both Josh Lewin and Tom did on May 30 due to national broadcasts], what do they do? If it were me, I'd think it would be fun to sit out in the stands and cheer like a fan.
-- Ben W. Lubbock, Texas

Grieve sat in the press box. Lewin was probably doing what he always does: fanatically and meticulously preparing for his next broadcast. Nobody prepares harder for a broadcast than Lewin.

Have the Rangers ever had a player that had a higher average out of town than home?
-- Charles W. Meridian, Texas

There are occasions. Will Clark hit .316 on the road in 1998 and .295 at home. But most Rangers hit better at the Ballpark than away. But, since the Ballpark opened in 1994, the Rangers have had 41 players hit .300 or better at home during a season and 21 players who hit .300 or better on the road.

We discussed a few years back about the knuckleball hittin' my horse and Pete was showin' the knuckle-curve. Any chance we can get a knuckleballer? I miss Pete, and my horse, but we need a knuckleballer.
-- Craig M. Ashdown, Ark.

We need a horse.

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