6/23/2013 8:19 P.M. ET
Rangers' need for righty outfield bat grows
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The Rangers have been looking for a right-handed outfield bat since the beginning of the season, and losing Craig Gentry to a fractured left hand could intensify the search.
The two names on the radar are Alex Rios of the White Sox and Josh Willingham of the Twins. Both could be of interest to the Rangers as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches and if the White Sox and Twins are unable to stay up with the Tigers in the American League Central.
Both appeal to the Rangers for several reasons. They are both right-handed hitters with power, and they are both under contract beyond this season. Rios, 32, is hitting .284 with 11 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .472 slugging percentage. He is also signed at $12.5 million for 2014 with a $13.5 million club option for '15.
Rios would have greater appeal than Willingham, but he likely would carry a higher price tag. Willingham is hitting .216 with 10 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .398 slugging percentage. He is signed for next season at $7 million. He hit .260 with 35 home runs and 110 RBIs for the Twins last season.
The Rangers called up Engel Beltre on Sunday to replace Gentry as the backup outfielder; he gives them another left-handed bat in the outfield, along with David Murphy and Leonys Martin. That leaves the Rangers' outfield heavy from the left side.
"Yes, it is a little concerning, but we'll make it work," manager Ron Washington said.
The Rangers have other long-range concerns with their outfield. They still don't know what will happen with Nelson Cruz in regard to Major League Baseball's investigation of Biogenesis, the Miami anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of Major League players. Cruz is among the names linked with the clinic and could face a possible suspension pending the completion of MLB's investigation.
Cruz and Murphy are also free agents after this season. Acquiring a player like Rios would help address the outfield concerns beyond this season.
Rangers place Gentry on DL, call up E. Beltre
ST. LOUIS -- The Rangers are looking at not having outfielder Craig Gentry for at least a month after he was placed on the disabled list with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand. Gentry was hit in the hand by a pitch last Tuesday against the Athletics and has been unable to grip a bat since.
"They said it may take three weeks more to heal up," Gentry said. "It will probably be two weeks before I feel better and can start swinging again. It will just be based on how it feels to me."
Gentry was hit by a pitch from A's pitcher Jarrod Parker in the seventh inning. Gentry stayed in the game and even stole second base after getting hit by the pitch. He also played defensively in Thursday's 4-3 victory but he has not been able to swing a bat.
X-rays did not reveal the fracture. But when the hand did not improve, Gentry had an MRI on Saturday that revealed the fracture.
"I have been trying every day to take some swings and see how it feels," Gentry said. "It wasn't feeling good. It was one of those fractures, if you had done 100 X-rays, it wouldn't have shown up. We needed an MRI."
Engel Beltre was called up to replace Gentry after hitting .300 with four home runs, 21 RBIs, 44 runs scored and 13 stolen bases for Triple-A Round Rock. He was 17-for-33 in his last seven games, but he was shocked when he got the call on Saturday night.
"It was the biggest surprise of my life," said Beltre, who was one of three players along with outfielder David Murphy and pitcher Kason Gabbard acquired from the Red Sox on July 31, 2007, for pitcher Eric Gagne.
Beltre has been playing center field primarily for Round Rock but he can play all three outfield positions.
"He plays hard, has a good bat, can run and play defense," manager Ron Washington said. "I'll find some playing time for him, but he's not going to unseat [center fielder Leonys Martin]."
Texas' All-Star picture could be all pitchers
ST. LOUIS -- Saturday's latest update of the All-Star voting suggests something might happen this year that hasn't happened since 1988. That was the last year the Rangers did not send a position player to the All-Star Game.
Lance Berkman was a distant second at designated hitter, while second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus and third baseman Adrian Beltre were all third at their positions. Nelson Cruz was sixth among outfielders.
If they aren't voted into the starting lineup by the fans, they could still earn a spot on the team as a reserve in the players voting. If they get shut out there, the Rangers would likely be represented by at least one pitcher. The last time the Rangers sent only a pitcher to the All-Star Game was in 1988, when Jeff Russell represented the club.
The Rangers' leading candidates are starter Yu Darvish and relievers Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan. The players will select five starters and three relievers. The rest of the staff will be selected by Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Nathan, a five-time All-Star, remains one of the premier closers in the American League. He is third with 24 saves with just one blown opportunity, he has a 1.72 ERA and opponents are hitting .157 off him. Mariano Rivera is a lock to be selected, and Oakland's Grant Balfour deserves strong consideration. Going into Sunday, the A's closer was 18-for-18 in save opportunities with a 1.17 ERA and a .193 batting average against.
Scheppers is 5-0 with a 0.97 ERA -- the second lowest among qualifying relievers. Opponents are hitting .175 off him. White Sox setup reliever Jesse Crain, who is 2-1 with a 0.53 ERA, is also a setup candidate. Jeff Zimmerman is the only Rangers setup reliever who has been selected to the All-Star team, back in 1999. The Rangers sent two relievers that season, with John Wetteland accompanying Zimmerman to Boston.
• Alexi Ogando, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, threw off the mound in the bullpen on Sunday without problem. It was his first mound session since his last start on June 5 in Boston. His next session will be Tuesday.
• The Rangers are scheduled to face right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, left-hander Andy Pettitte and right-hander Phil Hughes during their three-game series against the Yankees. The Rangers are expecting to face right-handers Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Mat Latos during their three-game series against the Reds next weekend in Arlington.
• Joe Nathan's save on Saturday was the 322nd of his career and moved him past Jose Mesa into 14th place all-time.
• Right-handed reliever Joakim Soria pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in his second rehabilitation assignment outing at Double-A Frisco. He threw 12 pitches. His next outing will be Wednesday at a site to be determined.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.