8/7/2013 9:27 P.M. ET
Frasor rising to occasion in first pennant race
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers entered Wednesday one game behind the Athletics in the American League West. Perhaps nobody appreciates their position more than veteran reliever Jason Frasor.
Frasor has appeared in 567 regular-season games since 2004 and has never been on a playoff team. That's the second most by an active pitcher in the Major Leagues behind Jamey Wright of the Rays. Frasor had spent his entire career with the Blue Jays, except for a two-month stint at the end of the 2011 season with the White Sox, before he signed with the Rangers as a free agent last winter.
"It's just so much fun contributing to a winning team this late in the year," Frasor said. "It's new. It's different. I've never been in a pennant race before. In 2006, we finished second in the division, but we were 10 games behind first place and had no chance to make the playoffs. The other years we had some good teams but we were always .500 in the AL East. There were always two teams better than us, some combination of the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays. It's almost the middle of August and this is my first pennant race."
Frasor has responded. Since the beginning of June, he is 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA and opponents are hitting .192 off him. He has allowed five earned runs and 60 percent of them came when Frasor gave up a three-run home run to Ryan Raburn in an 11-8 loss to the Indians. He was in his third inning of work because the Rangers bullpen was operating short-handed that night.
"Once you are out there, it feels like another big league outing," Frasor said, "Obviously there is more at stake. You are not out there only for yourself trying to earn a spot on the roster for next year. It's really cool being out there fighting for a postseason spot."
Berkman still running at half speed
ANAHEIM -- Rangers veteran Lance Berkman, on the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip, continues to progress in batting practice but is still not full strength in his running to the point where he's ready to go out on a medical-rehabilitation assignment.
"It's been OK, but I still have to be able to run and it's still not quite there yet," Berkman said. "I can run half-speed, but I've got to be able to do more than that."
Berkman has been taking batting practice regularly on the road trip. Not only is he dealing with the hip problem but also chronic soreness in his right knee that gives him as much trouble at the plate as anything. He was hoping that he would be ready for a rehab assignment by now and be activated on the next home stand. But that is still up in the air.
"You can't demand your body to heal at a quick rate," Berkman said. "You want to get out there as quick as you can. Not being 100 percent ready to go out on a rehab assignment right now is not what I was hoping for but it's not entirely unexpected."
The Rangers are off on Thursday before playing the Astros on Friday night. Berkman will try running before that game to get a better gauge of where he's at physically.
Washington says Hamilton will be back
ANAHEIM -- Former Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has not had a great first season with the Angels. He went into Wednesday's game hitting .219 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. His slugging percentage was .400, which is 131 points under his career average.
But Rangers manager Ron Washington said he expects Hamilton to come back strong next season and be worth the Angels' investment in the long run.
"Josh is adjusting to a new environment, but Josh is going to pay dividends to the Angels organization," Washington said before Wednesday's game. "This is his first time going through this much pressure, and he really cares. Now that he's gone through it, people are going to be very happy with Josh because he can play. He can take a game over. It's just a big adjustment for him."
After five years with the Rangers, Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels as a free agent last winter.
"Whatever he's going through here, we've seen it all in Texas," Washington said. "It's just a big adjustment and he cares. I think next year you'll see what Josh can really do. Now that he's gone through it, next year you'll see some real damage. They have a quality player here. Five tools, baby, five tools."
Profar getting time at DH
ANAHEIM -- Rookie utility infielder Jurickson Profar was in the Rangers' lineup on Wednesday night for the sixth time in seven games. Prior to that, Profar had started just three times in an 11-game stretch.
The regular time may help. Profar went into Wednesday's game with a modest five-game hitting streak, with six hits in 20 at-bats.
"He's starting to get better with his at-bats, no doubt about it," manager Ron Washington said. "Regular at-bats usually do that for you. If you start having regular at-bats and can hit, you'll find your groove. He's not overmatched."
The problem is finding a place to play, especially since the Rangers have decided not to use Profar in the outfield if they can help it. Profar was at designated hitter on Wednesday, one night after making a couple of spectacular defensive plays at second base in the Rangers' 8-3 victory over the Angels.
Since second baseman Ian Kinsler returned from the disabled list on June 15, Profar has started six times each at DH, third base and shortstop, five times at second and four times in left field. Washington doesn't like putting him at designated hitter but the current makeup of the roster often leaves him no choice.
"He's too young to be sitting around the dugout," Washington said. "I'd like to have him active on the field ... but when you're playing that utility role, that's exactly what it is."
• The Rangers are scheduled to face three left-handed starters in four games against the Astros. Manager Ron Washington is planning to get both right-handed hitting outfielders Joey Butler and Craig Gentry into the lineup against the lefties: Erik Bedard on Friday, Dallas Keuchel on Sunday and Brett Oberholtzer on Monday.
• The Rangers are off on Thursday. It's their first day off since the All-Star break.
• The Rangers had six stolen bases against the Angels on Tuesday. It was the most stolen bases against the Angels in a game since 1992. It's the 10th time in club history the Rangers have had six-plus steals in a game.
• The Rangers have promoted pitcher Luis Parra from Class A Hickory to Myrtle Beach. Pitcher Santo Perez was promoted to Class A Hickory and John Niggli was promoted to Class A Spokane. Both were with the Arizona Rookie League Rangers. Pitcher Ryan Bores was placed on the disabled list at Class A Hickory and Double A pitcher Joe Van Meter was released.
• Joey Gallo is 7-for-19 with two home runs and ten RBI on rehab assignment with the Arizona Rangers. He is coming back from a strained groin muscle that forced him to miss the All-Star Futures Game.
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.