May 2006

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 30, 2006

Mark Teixeira may have an uncharacteristically low six home runs through what is nearly a third of the season, but he just hit a grand slam defensively. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better play by a first baseman. And just like that, a couple Otsuka strikeouts later, game over.

That’s five out of six against Oakland and Seattle, and if the A’s fail to come back from what is now a 6-1 deficit to the Royals in the top of the fourth, the Rangers’ lead in the AL West will be five games.

Too bad the Mavs didn’t keep the streak going.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 29, 2006 ADDENDUM

March 31, 2006: Texas trades righthander Juan Dominguez to Oakland for utility man Freddie Bynum and lefthander John Rheinecker, flipping Bynum to the Cubs for lefthander John Koronka and a player to be named later.

Jon Daniels probably oughtta just tell Chicago to forget the PTBNL, don’t you think?

Or to just give it to Oakland.

Good grief.

Nice 27th birthday gift from Rheinecker, to his bullpen and his teammates and to you and me.

Wow. Freakin’ wow.

Jamey

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 29, 2006

Go back as many years as you’d like, and tell me this: How many games has this team won with six or fewer hits? Not many.

And if you think the question is flawed because Texas also racked up seven walks, it’s not. While not as rare, I bet the number of times the Rangers have drawn that many free passes is freakishly low, too.

Winning a game with pitching, defense, and more walks than hits isn’t exactly the hallmark of a Rangers team. But that’s exactly what happened last night, as Texas nailed down its third win in its four-game set against second-place Oakland, coming from behind each time, and it’s starting to become apparent that this club has more than one way to beat you.

It’s been written more than once this spring that the Rangers, maybe not unlike most major league teams, might be reluctant to run an everyday lineup out there with more than one rookie. A bad thumb has been the only thing to slow Ian Kinsler down so far, but undoubtedly there will be bumps in the road this year, at some point, as he gets his big league bearings. It makes sense not to want a couple guys in the lineup who are, theoretically, having to figure it all out on the run.

And that’s why there’s some genius to the idea of having Gerald Laird playing once or twice a week in Arlington as opposed to daily in Oklahoma City. (I’d certainly have liked to see more of Laird in the first month of the season, when Rod Barajas was struggling at the plate, but that’s not the point of this discussion.) If Texas goes into the 2007 season with Laird as its starter, choosing not to compete financially with the open market to sign Barajas to his first multi-year deal, it won’t be the same as breaking Kinsler in. Laird should have 400 big league at-bats by time this season ends.

Which brings us to Jason Botts.

With Texas leading the American League West, this is no time to be experimenting, or auditioning. But Phil Nevin is in the throes of an extended rut — he’s 2 for his last 27 (though both hits left the yard) — and so it’s not as if the organization was considering having to sacrifice a steady veteran bat in order to take a look at a kid when Jon Daniels announced that Botts, on a 14-for-31 tear (.452/.500/.638) at Oklahoma, was on his way to Arlington. In past years we might have seen Chad Allen or Jason Conti or Ryan Christenson. But Daniels didn’t reach down for Adam Hyzdu to give Buck Showalter another bat. He grabbed Botts, and doing so now is going to help the organization decide whether the 25-year-old can be the fulltime designated hitter in 2007, with a couple hundred at-bats of his own as evidence.

Botts will have his ups and downs, and his playing time will probably come in spurts as Showalter is not going to give up on Nevin at this point, but as long as there are nights like that from time to time for Botts, Texas will either have found its DH or developed a very good trade chip.

Botts had two of the Rangers’ six hits. Two of the club’s three extra-base hits. Two of their seven walks. And, on his first career home run, a towering blast into the upper deck that I bet he’ll always remember happened on the same day as Barry Bonds hit number 715, Botts drove in three of his team’s four runs. It’s not a stretch to suggest that, in Sunday night’s nationally televised game, Botts was the difference.

The switch-hitter has now stepped to the plate a dozen times since his recall on May 23. He has four hits (including two doubles and a homer), four walks, and four outs. He’s seen 4.75 pitches per plate appearance, after seeing 4.80 per in his 30 times up in 2005. No major leaguer with a qualifying number of plate appearances has seen that many.

Kinsler had his fifth multi-hit game out of a dozen, singling twice and bringing Brad Wilkerson home on a sawed-off dribbler that he shouldn’t have swung at, and that Oakland first baseman Dan Johnson shouldn’t have played.

Lefthander John Rheinecker will be recalled to make tonight’s start against Seattle, and the corresponding move is likely to be the return of righthander Wes Littleton to the farm. Not unexpectedly, the sidewinder didn’t get into a game in his three days with Texas — Botts had a similar experience last July — but he’ll be back.

Southpaw Ron Mahay’s last six appearances: seven hitless innings, two walks, six strikeouts. Overall, he’s holding opponents to a line of .180/.281/.180, the first and last numbers of which indicate that he has yet to allow an extra-base hit.

Righthander Antonio Alfonseca will report to Oklahoma on a rehab assignment and pitch Wednesday.

Righthander Josh Rupe and lefthander Brian Anderson each threw one inning in extended on Saturday.

Righthander Frankie Francisco will throw one inning in extended today, after which he could head to Frisco.

Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo will reportedly return to full-time duties with the Rangers after the Seattle series that begins tonight.

Texas signed 30-year-old righthander Ryan Jensen, who has pitched in four big league seasons with San Francisco and Kansas City. Jensen, who went 13-8, 4.51 for the Giants in his first full season in 2002, had been pitching for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League when the Rangers purchased his contract. He’ll head to Frisco.

The Ducks, by the way, are considering signing former Ranger slugger Juan Gonzalez.

Texas traded Bakersfield righthander Marc LaMacchia to Florida for a different Juan Gonzalez, a 24-year-old shortstop from Venezuela who was hitting .254/.333/.310 for the High A Jupiter Hammerheads. Gonzalez spent several seasons in the Tigers system before going to Seattle in the Carlos Guillen trade prior to the 2004 season. He’s a plus gloveman who should help solidify the defense behind young Blaze starters Eric Hurley, Michael Schlact, Kea Kometani, Bannister, and Doug Mathis.

LaMacchia went 1-3, 6.32 for Bakersfield this spring, giving up 42 hits and 18 walks while fanning 27 in 31.1 innings. The Rangers’ 21st-round pick in 2003 following a high-profile career at Florida State that was stalled by Tommy John surgery, LaMacchia was sidelined in 2003 and 2004 as he rehabbed his elbow. He pitched for Clinton in 2005, going 4-2, 3.73 in 62.2 relief innings.

LaMacchia represented the Rangers on Team Italy this March, along with Vincent Sinisi, who is hitting .182/.250/.236 for AA Mobile.

Texas acquired righthander Freddy Guzman, along with young righthander Cesar Rojas, for Sinisi and righthander John Hudgins (2-0, 1.62 in three Mobile starts) on May 11. Guzman managed only three hits in his first 24 Oklahoma at-bats, but he’s been on a tear since, going 11 for 30 (.367) with four doubles and a triple, plus seven walks (.486 on-base percentage) and only four strikeouts.

Outfielder Laynce Nix is hitting .286/.336/.622 in May, with seven homers and 27 RBI in 25 games, though he’s fanned 26 times while drawing only four walks.

Somewhat surprisingly, outfielder Adrian Brown accepted an outright assignment to the RedHawks after clearing waivers.

Righthander R.A. Dickey went back onto the Oklahoma disabled list, and righthander Nick Masset was promoted to the RedHawks for a second time. Masset started for the AAA club on Saturday and allowed seven runs in two frames.

After one appearance for Oklahoma, Michael Bumstead was reassigned to Frisco.

Frisco catcher Dustin Smith has retired. A six-year Rangers farmhand, Smith came into the season as a .274/.364/.380 hitter but was sitting at .200/.234/.200 in 60 at-bats this spring, his third stint with the RoughRiders. The Rangers brought Mike Nickeas back up to Frisco to replace Smith. Nickeas, who hit .202/.263/.302 in AA last year, was hitting .297/.395/.359 for Bakersfield when promoted.

Clinton outfielder John Mayberry Jr. is quietly having a solid May, hitting .263/.351/.404 for the month.

According to Baseball America, the Rangers released righthanders Jayson Durocher and Emilio Adames. Durocher went 1-0, 7.94 in four RedHawk relief appearances before landing on the disabled list with right shoulder tendonitis. Adames missed the 2005 season due to elbow surgery and hadn’t pitched in an official game in 2006.

San Diego signed righthander Mark Roberts and outfielder Billy Susdorf, reuniting them with Grady Fuson, who drafted both for the Rangers in 2004.

Atlanta placed righthander Carlos Almanzar on the restricted list. Kansas City released lefthander Ryan Snare. St. Louis signed lefthander Matt Perisho. Florida placed infielder Edgar Gonzalez on the suspended list.

Infielder Craig Ringe signed with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the independent Northern League. Righthander Willy Espinal signed with the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am League. The North Shore Spirit of the same league released righthander Jason Andrew. Washington purchased the contract of righthander Billy Sylvester from the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.

Righthander Juan Dominguez sits at 4-5, 6.22 for AAA Sacramento. In nine starts and one relief appearance, he’s allowed 52 hits and 27 walks while striking out 34 in 46.1 innings.

I’ve got to share this note, which Newberg Report reader Greg Tepper came up with on Saturday: Since May 15, on every day that the Mavericks have won, the Rangers have won. Whenever the Mavericks have lost, the Rangers have lost. The two teams matched results for the seventh straight time last night.

After this run is over, whether it ends against Phoenix, against the champions of the Eastern Conference, or with a parade, it’ll be time for Jerry Stackhouse to be Antawn Jamison’d into a draft pick. Maybe not a lottery pick this time, but maybe they can turn him into a mid-first. I’ve lost faith in that guy.

Just as GM Jon Daniels has earned the right not to be called 28-year-old GM Jon Daniels anymore, nine-year-old phenom Grant Schiller has pretty well earned the right not to be labeled any longer by his age.

If you’re on the mailing list, you’ve already seen that Grant pinch-hit for Mike Hindman this morning with the Farm Report. If you have any comments for Grant, whose recent interview of Thomas Diamond is now up at http://texasrangerstrades.blogspot.com/, you can reach him at grantlovesbaseball@sbcglobal.net.

Tonight is the deadline to sign 2005 draft-and-follows (unless the player’s junior college team is still in action, in which case the deadline would extend until after they finish playing, though before the June 6 draft). Daytona Beach Community College shortstop Chase Fontaine (18th round) and Columbia Basin Community College third baseman Steve Marquardt (23rd round) are reportedly atop the list of players the Rangers are trying to sign. Marquardt’s squad is still alive and so the window to sign him will extend past tonight.

Fontaine, who transferred to Daytona Beach after playing for the University of Texas as a freshman, has committed to the University of Florida for 2007 if he doesn’t sign with the Rangers today, or with whatever team drafts him a week from tomorrow. He was the Mid-Florida Conference Player of the Year this season, hitting .407 with 10 homers and 48 RBI in 41 games.

Other notable Ranger draft-and-follow candidates include righthanders Brad Barragar (eighth round) and Dexter Carter (12th round), both of whom have experienced arm problems this spring, and a couple players at Yavapai Community College in Arizona (where righthander John Bannister would have pitched had the Rangers not signed him out of high school): lefthander J.R. Murphy (10-1, 1.71 with one save in 14 starts and a relief appearance; 104 strikeouts and 15 walks in 94.1 innings) and catcher Kevin Gossage (.298-4-40 in 188 at-bats), nephew of Rich.

Yavapai remains alive in the NJCAA World Series. Murphy started the RoughRiders’ tournament opener, a 6-5 loss to Wallace State, though he pitched well, giving up four runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks in 8.1 innings, fanning nine. Gossage was hitless in four trips.

I also read this morning that last fall, the Rangers signed last summer’s 32nd-round pick, New Mexico Junior College shortstop Renny Osuna, who was the 2005 NJCAA World Series MVP. That one slipped under the radar.

The Venezuelan product was the 969th player taken in the draft last year, but you don’t rule a guy like that out just because of his slot.

If players like that had no chance, we would have long ago written off the 1,375th pick in the 1999 draft, Jason Botts.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 28, 2006

Jason Botts and Ian Kinsler.

Josh Howard and DeSagana Diop.

Youth serves.

– Jamey

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 26, 2006 ADDENDUM

Hank Joe Blalock against lefthanders in 2002: .067/.176/.067, 11 strikeouts, three walks

In 2003: .209/.245/.295, 32 strikeouts, seven walks

In 2004: .282/.344/.436, 56 strikeouts, 17 walks

In 2005: .196/.228/.356, 53 strikeouts, seven walks

Hank Joe Blalock against lefthanders in 2006: .311/.373/.533, two strikeouts, five walks

Dude is maturing.

– Jamey

P.S. Josh Howard. And DeSagana Diop.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 26, 2006

Just one in 162. Yeah, right.

When the story of the 2006 season is written, hopefully there will be more than 162 to talk about, and if that’s the case, last night’s game is going to be prominent among them, as much as any May game can be.

An impossible comeback against a team with designs on catching you atop the division.

A stake in the heart of a club that had already lost five straight, none in such a devastating fashion as that one.

Handing the other team’s closer his second loss of the season (after also dealing him his first), and bailing your ace out.

Two picturesque slams: Rod Barajas’s blast to get the Rangers on the board in the sixth inning, and Phil Nevin’s helmet spike as he approached an awaiting scrum at the plate.

Thursday night staged the extraordinary return to action of the club’s most inexperienced and lowest-paid player, and the return to glory, for one night at least, of its most experienced and highest-paid player.

Everyone would agree that Ian Kinsler boasts the strongest upward bullet on the Texas Rangers. Most would say that nobody on the roster is as up against it as Nevin. Last night, those two had baseball moments they’ll never forget, and provided us with a few of those, too.

And meanwhile, the happiest face at the home plate pogo-fest might have belonged to Jason Botts, in spite of the fact that he’s the player whose playing time could be affected most by Nevin’s and Kinsler’s play. (Of course, Botts may have appeared to be the happiest guy only because you couldn’t see the faces of anyone standing less than 6’7″ in that swarm.)

(If you didn’t see it or don’t believe me, check Botts in the photo on Joe Siegler’s excellent www.rangerfans.com/ site.)

The Nevin connection is obvious. His brutal month precipitated the promotion of Botts, who started at DH his first two days up, relegating Nevin to the bench.

Meanwhile, Kinsler’s return makes Mark DeRosa a supersub once again, and it would stand to reason that, with so few players in the lineup candidates for platoon treatment, Buck Showalter will rely on DeRosa — who hit .342/.411/.608 in Kinsler’s absence — to give occasional breaks to everyone from Kinsler to his three infield-mates to Brad Wilkerson to Kevin Mench. And by breaks, I don’t necessarily mean days off. Any of those players could end up designated-hitting on days that DeRosa relieves them defensively, which could conceivably have the added big-picture benefit of keeping everyone stronger longer. But spreading the DH slot around affects Botts’s opportunities, whether Nevin works his way back into the picture or not.

Some of the Rangers’ iron men might resist the idea of getting more days off (or days at DH) than in previous years, but maybe less so since DeRosa would be the beneficiary. He’s the new (and improved) Dellucci on this club, a veteran leader who has the utmost respect of everyone in the clubhouse. And he’s having a heck of a year.

Kinsler, with a single and two solo bombs, picked up right where he left off when he broke his thumb on April 11, lifting his season numbers to .520/.600/.960. He’s stepped to the plate 30 times, and reached base 18 times, racking up two doubles, three homers, eight singles, a hit-by-pitch, and four walks, while striking out just twice.

Barajas had his two biggest moments of the season, with the grand slam in the sixth and a diving tag of Adam Melhuse at the plate to end the top of the eighth, keeping Texas within a run.

Fantastic work out of Ron Mahay, racking up three strikeouts in a perfect sixth and seventh.

Mark Teixeira’s line drive home run busts down the floogates. Guaranteed.

The Rangers made a few roster moves on Thursday, designating outfielder Adrian Brown for assignment to make room on the active roster for Kinsler, and exchanging righthander Robinson Tejeda for Frisco reliever Wes Littleton, who will be with the club tonight and tomorrow before Oklahoma lefthander John Rheinecker is recalled to pitch Sunday’s series finale against Oakland, his former club.

Littleton has been evil all season. The sidewinder is 3-0, 0.66 with three saves in 17 RoughRider relief appearances, giving up three runs (two earned) on just 13 hits (.137 opponents’ average) and seven walks in 27.1 innings, punching out 25. He’s induced 39 groundouts and only 17 flyouts, and perhaps most significantly, he’s getting left-handed hitters out. After AA lefties hit .336 off Littleton in 2005, he has held them to a .184 clip this year. He’s also reduced righthanders’ average against him from .265 in 2005 to a filthy .105 this season.

As Frankie Francisco, Scott Feldman, and C.J. Wilson proved in the past, the Rangers have no qualms about bringing up a pitcher without any AAA experience if they think he’s ready to get big league hitters out. Whether Littleton gets that chance before he returns to the farm on Sunday probably depends on John Koronka and Kameron Loe’s ability to get into the sixth inning these next two nights.

Rheinecker is 2-0, 1.80 in his last seven RedHawk starts, with 11 walks and 31 strikeouts in 40 innings. Righthander Vicente Padilla will be pushed back to Monday’s opener of the Seattle series in order to give his right ankle an extra day to rest.

Tejeda had walked 14 hitters in 16.1 big league innings, and his unsightly 21.2 pitches per inning meant that even on days that he had good stuff, he was taxing the bullpen. He didn’t exceed five frames in any of his four Ranger starts.

Texas will outright Brown to Oklahoma if he clears waivers, but he has the right (having been outrighted previously) to refuse the assignment and take free agency.

Righthander Antonio Alfonseca is eligible to be activated from the disabled list but will pitch at least once more (either in Oklahoma or in a simulated game) before that happens. He threw a scoreless inning for Frisco on Wednesday.

Francisco will reportedly head to Frisco for a rehab assignment after pitching an inning at extended today.

Righthander Josh Rupe threw an inning at extended on Wednesday.

Oklahoma righthander R.A. Dickey (shoulder) was been activated from the disabled list, giving up seven runs in four innings last night, while Bakersfield catchers Mike Nickeas (hamstring) and Emerson Frostad (hand) returned to action as well.

RedHawk right fielder Laynce Nix homered twice last night, driving in five runs. As Mike Hindman points out this morning, Nix has two extra-base hits each in three of his last four games, and has his AAA numbers up to .292/.345/.575.

Rehabbing lefthander Fabio Castro gave up an unearned run in three innings for Frisco last night, scattering four hits and a walk while fanning a pair.

Blaze outfielder Ben Harrison has a share of the California League with 10 home runs, and teammate Steve Murphy is one bomb short.

Watch out for Clinton righthander Omar Poveda. The 18-year-old fired a career-best eight innings last night, permitting three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk, fanning nine. It was the Venezuelan’s first win of the season, despite the fact that he’s thrown five straight quality starts, and six out of eight overall. In 46.2 innings, Poveda has punched out 48 and issued only 11 walks.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus speculates that the Rangers could end up with University of Texas center fielder Drew Stubbs or Houston-area high school righthander Kyle Drabek with the number 12 pick in the June 6 draft.

T.R. Sullivan now has a Rangers blog. Check it out.

A good friend who is more of a student of hoops than I am tells me regularly that I think too highly of Steve Nash. You know what? Derek Jeter has flaws, too, but the guy gets the most out of the talent he has, seems to bring out the best in his teammates, and wins. How can being a winner not be the ultimate measure of a ballplayer?

Nash is my favorite athlete playing for a team other than mine.

I’m looking forward to Mavs-Suns, Game Two, but no more so than these next three against the A’s and the three after that against the Mariners, all at home. This team has overcome a ton of key injuries and an erratic bullpen, but the fact is that nobody in the division has gotten off to a strong start, and Texas sits two games up on the field.

Can you rule out the possibility that last night’s impossible win galvanizes this club even further? These are six huge games at home.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 24, 2006

On the day I turn 50, I hope the most emotional, memorable exchange I have isn’t with
someone who looks like Tim Tschida.

That was a lousy way for an umpire to allow a tie game to become untied.

Of course, Tschida isn’t the one who, to begin the eighth, walked the rookie hitting

eighth, allowed a sharp single to the number nine hitter, and walked the

.360-slugging leadoff hitter who had gone down swinging the previous two trips.

Francisco Rodriguez sure made Kevin Mench look a lot more like the guy who came into

the season as a .213/.270/.335 hitter in “close and late” situations than the

.421/.450/.579 guy he’d been in 2006. No chance.

Hank Blalock doubled three times, all to the opposite field. What a renaissance.

See that wince on his face after his ninth-inning slide into second? He probably

gets lifted for pinch-runner Adrian Brown anyway, given the situation, but hopefully

Blalock’s knee is fine.

While only one is true, it seems that every time the Rangers and Angels tee it up,

Vladimir Guerrero gets a hit and Michael Young goes deep.

Jason Botts was promoted to Texas on Tuesday, and this wasn’t your typical call-up.

Nobody got hurt, and nobody got traded. It comes down to this: Botts was hitting

.318/.373/.615 for Oklahoma, including .324/.387/.750 in May. Phil Nevin was hitting

.226/.324/.409 for the Rangers, including .145/.254/.177 in a homerless, four-RBI

May.

Last year, when Botts was given a big league look, he was putting together an

impressive .286/.375/.522 AAA season, but for a number of reasons it was pretty clear

that Nevin was going to be the club’s fulltime 2006 DH coming out of camp. Among the

reasons that Botts was not even a candidate to platoon with Nevin was that, like

Nevin, he was historically a better hitter against left-handed pitching –

dramatically so in 2005.

But Botts has made considerable strides against righthanders this season. In 2005,

AAA righties held him to a .258/.351/.462 clip. This year he’s hit .314/.385/.647

against them. He’s still striking out more than you’d like (once every 3.44 at-bats

after once every 3.36 trips last year), but he’s hitting .319/.373/.615 overall this

season, and sits at .293/.375/.543 in 658 AAA at-bats.

Botts got the start last night and drew walks in the sixth and eighth. It’s going to

be interesting to see how much time he gets at the expense of Nevin, who was

reportedly not a very good clubhouse influence last summer once his regular playing

time subsided. Nevin’s very good April certainly helped Texas finish that month atop

the AL West, but it’s not April anymore, and Nevin hasn’t been producing at all

lately.

Would the Rangers conceivably run out a lineup in 2007 that includes three young

starters? Why not? Ian Kinsler and Gerald Laird are making strong cases that

they’re ready for fulltime duty. It’s time to see if the switch-hitting Botts is

ready. With his history of starting slowly at each new level before igniting in his

second year (though his 2005 acclimation period in AAA lasted about one month, rather

than a full season), and with Nevin’s struggles in May, there’s no reason not to run

Botts out there a good bit right now, to see what he’s got and, hopefully, to let him

fight through his adjustment period and get it out of the way.

Drew Meyer, who hadn’t played since getting one at-bat on May 9, was optioned to AAA

to make room for Botts.

Once Kinsler is ready (he’s now getting past a nagging hamstring, having fully

rehabbed the broken thumb), it will be interesting to see whether the next roster

move involves infielder D’Angelo Jimenez, who has six at-bats this month, or Brown,

who has had more opportunities but hasn’t done much with them. If Kinsler — who

doubled twice and homered last night for the RedHawks — regains his starting job,

Mark DeRosa will give Buck Showalter another outfield option, and for that reason

Brown may be deemed more expendable than Jimenez.

Truthfully, both could be gone once Texas decides to bring Freddy Guzman to

Arlington.

Righthander Antonio Alfonseca is throwing off the mound and could begin a rehab

assignment this week. Righthander Frankie Francisco and lefthander Brian Anderson,

both rehabbing after Tommy John surgery, were slated to pitch in extended yesterday.

The MRI of Frisco lefthander John Danks’s left arm revealed no torn ligaments or

other structural damage, and though he’ll miss one more start, that news couldn’t be

better.

Meanwhile, Bakersfield righthander Eric Hurley has landed on the disabled list with a

sprained right wrist and Blaze reliever Johnny Lujan has been DL’d with right elbow

soreness. To replace them, righthander Matt Farnum was activated and lefthander Broc

Coffman, who had gone 3-1, 0.47 in a start and three relief appearances for Clinton,

was promoted.

Oklahoma infielder Aarom Baldiris was placed on the disabled list with a broken bone

in his right hand (Meyer will replace him at second base), and righthander R.A.

Dickey was DL’d with shoulder tendonitis. The rash of RedHawk injuries is almost too

bizarre to believe.

Righthander Michael Bumstead, who pitched in the San Diego and Seattle systems from

2001 until this spring, and infielder Dave Berg, who played in the big leagues from

1998 through 2004 with Florida and Toronto, join the RedHawks.

LumberKings catcher Billy Killian (.164/.215/.262) was reassigned to extended.

The Rangers signed a lefthander named Patrick Ford and sent him to extended.

Freak: Twenty-four-year-old Frisco second baseman Adam Morrissey is hitting

.449/.460/.694 in 49 RoughRider at-bats.

Clinton outfielder John Mayberry Jr. was chased from Monday’s game after being hit in

the head by a pitch, but he played on Tuesday.

The deadline to sign eligible draft-and-follows from the 2005 draft is next Tuesday.

The Yankees signed Erubiel Durazo and Jason Romano to minor league contracts.

The White Sox optioned righthander Agustin Montero to AAA Charlotte, and purchased

the contract of righty Jeff Nelson.

Lefthander Justin Thompson, after posting a 6.11 ERA in eight starts for AAA

Nashville in the Brewers system this spring, has retired. He’ll surely be coaching

somewhere, soon.

Minnesota sold righthander Ryan Glynn to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the

Japanese Pacific League.

If you go to the Newberg Report blog page on MLB.com, you can now view all of the

prospect video features I’ve recorded for use on the Jumbotron at Ameriquest Field,

including the two new ones that are being shown during the current homestand, on Wes

Littleton and Drew Meyer.

Just go to http://newberg.mlblogs.com/ and

scroll down the left side menu, where you will find links to the video for: Johnny

Whittleman, Botts, Nick Masset, Littleton, Meyer, Danks, Travis Metcalf, and Thomas

Diamond.

My latest “Going Deep” feature for MLB.com is http://rangersfarmreport.mlblogs.com/. Mike interviewed Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Rick Adair on the

topic of the philosophy and processes the organization employs in the development of

young pitchers. The article is brilliant stuff, the likes of which you won’t find

anywhere else on the Internet, on any organization.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg

at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 22, 2006

It’s not often that you can say with confidence that you’ve written something that’s never been written before, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be the first baseball writer to ever utter the following two words:

DeSagana Diop.

Actually, my Monday night had five stars:

1. Erica Newberg. Kindergarten graduate.

2. Kameron Loe. The bull.

3. Brad Wilkerson. There you go.

4. Michael Young. Automatic.

5. DeSagana Diop.

Best thing about the next Mavericks series – the best – is that it should be decided by the players. As it should be.

Like Ben and Skin just said on the Ticket postgame show, go find yourself a bottle of Gatorade and pour it on yourself, if you’re so inclined.

And get out to Ameriquest Field. That’s a big win to kick off a big series and a bigger homestand. And the Rangers will play twice more to finish this set against the Angels before the Mavs next take the floor. Go.

Duncan1522_2

Bye, Timmy.

Duncan2522_1

Timmy. I said goodbye.

Duncan3522_1

Hey. Hey! We’re done here!

Duncan4522_1

You don’t understand. I don’t officiate basketball games. Scram.

Duncan5522_1

Yeah, go ahead and make some birdie shadows on the wall. I’ll find you a rattle, and a teddy bear that wears vertical stripes and a whistle.

Duncan6522_1

Bye, Timmy.

– Jamey

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 21, 2006

When Kevin Millwood agreed to terms with Texas on the day after Christmas, he talked about how he wasn’t afraid of pitching in Arlington. He doesn’t have much of a problem pitching in the road grays and blues, either.

Millwood has pitched five times on the road this season. In all five starts he’s gone seven innings. His record in those games is 4-0, 2.31. And in his 35 innings of work, he’s set 30 hitters down on strikes.

And walked none.

Ace.

With last night’s win, Texas guaranteed no worse than an even split on this big trip to New York, Boston, and Houston. And of their three losses going into Sunday’s finale in Houston, Texas led by nine runs in the first one (and had a one-run lead in the ninth), lost by one run in the second, and led by a run in the eighth in the third. Could have been a lot better, but before the trip began you probably would have taken a split.

No Astro reached second base against Millwood yesterday, and none did at all until there was one out in the ninth and Craig Biggio doubled off Francisco Cordero.

Cordero in May: 9.1 innings over 10 appearances, one run (0.96 ERA) on seven hits (.200 opponents’ average) and two walks, nine strikeouts. The only extra-base hit he’s allowed this month was the Biggio two-bagger.

Leadoff hitter Gary Matthews Jr. in May: a .393/.439/.656 line in 61 at-bats, hits in 13 of 15 games, five walks and six strikeouts. Half of his 24 hits have gone for extra bases.

Brad Wilkerson since April 28: .362/.443/.638.

Alfonso Soriano over the same stretch: .226/.278/.512.

(Give Soriano this much credit: Despite going to a pitchers’ park in a new league, his season line of .277/.323/.559 is better than his 2005 numbers [.268/.309/.512] were with Texas, and his slugging percentage would be a career best if he maintains it.)

Ranger catchers in May: .339/.388/.581.

Righthander Rick Bauer fired a perfect eighth in relief of Millwood and has a 2.63 ERA in his last nine appearances. He’s pretty impressive.

So was righthander Robinson Tejeda on Friday. He threw too many pitches and issued four walks in five frames, but held Houston to two hits and fanned half a dozen. And he did a good job getting a key sacrifice bunt down, as Millwood did yesterday.

To make room on the roster for Tejeda, Texas placed reliever Antonio Alfonseca on the disabled list with elbow soreness. The club backdated the move to May 9 (the last time Alfonseca pitched), meaning he can be activated as soon as Thursday.

Pitching on the same day as Tejeda — not coincidentally, I’m sure — righthander John Wasdin fired a complete game shutout for Oklahoma on Friday, scattering six hits and two walks while punching out nine Salt Lake Stingers. Wasdin improved to 2-3, 2.53 for the season, in six starts and a relief appearance. He’s got an impressive 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and his 52 punchouts are third-most in the 16-team Pacific Coast League.

Reliever Scott Feldman is day to day after spraining his ankle on an unassisted putout in the seventh inning Friday night.

The rehabilitation of righthander Adam Eaton’s middle finger tendon is reportedly ahead of schedule. Early speculation was that he might miss the season’s first four months, but it’s now looking like his timetable might be slightly accelerated. He’s been cleared by a hand specialist to begin baseball conditioning exercises.

Lefthander John Danks complained of soreness in his left elbow and forearm area after a 12-strikeout performance in six innings on Monday, prompting the Rangers to schedule an examination with Dr. Keith Meister, the Rangers’ team physician. In his last three starts, Danks is 2-0, 3.00 with 28 strikeouts in 18 frames, having allowed only 13 hits and five walks.

The Rangers are hopeful that Danks will miss just one start. Hold your breath.

Lefthander Fabio Castro kicked off his rehab assignment with Frisco by starting in Danks’s place last night. Working on a 55-pitch limit, Castro went 2.2 innings, giving up three runs (all unearned due to an Adam Morrissey error) on three hits and three walks, and fanning two. He’d thrown seven scoreless innings in extended spring training before being assigned to the AA squad for a rehab stint that can last up to 30 days.

My next “Going Deep” feature for MLB.com will be published tomorrow, focusing on the rules pertaining to rehab assignments such as the one that the Rule 5 pick Castro is on.

Oklahoma knuckleballer R.A. Dickey left Thursday’s start complaining of shoulder soreness.

RoughRider first baseman Jim Fasano was the Texas League player of the week for May 1-7 — his first full week in Class AA — while Frisco righthander Thomas Diamond was named the league’s pitcher of the week for May 8-14. Fasano hit .367 with three doubles, two homers, and nine RBI in his big week, while Diamond was rewarded for his May 12 gem (six shutout innings, two hits and a walk, 11 strikeouts).

Oklahoma left fielder Jason Botts is heating up again. With home runs the last two days, the switch-hitter is one short of the Pacific Coast League lead with 10 bombs and is hitting .324/.373/.634, good for second in the circuit in slugging and fourth in OPS. Botts is hitting .520 and slugging 1.160 in 25 at-bats over his last seven games.

The Rangers released Frisco infielder Craig Ringe, the club’s 23rd-round pick in 2002. In six seasons in the system, the popular Ringe hit .235 (including .205 in 73 at-bats this season for the RoughRiders) with 11 home runs.

The Rangers placed Bakersfield lefthander William Rodriguez on the disabled list with a sprained finger, and promoted righthander Wandy Morla to the Blaze from extended.

Catcher Alberto Martinez has joined the Clinton roster out of extended.

Baseball America published its first mock first round for the June 6 amateur draft, pegging University of Missouri righthander Max Scherzer (a Scott Boras client) as the Rangers’ pick at number 12. BA projects University of Houston righthander Brad Lincoln as the Tampa Bay’s pick, third overall. The Rangers selected Lincoln out of Brazoswood High School in the 28th round of the 2003 draft but couldn’t sign him.

Righthander John Hudgins is now 1-0, 0.60 for AA Mobile, after firing six no-hit innings last night in which he walked one hitter and fanned six. Righthander Paul Abraham, the Rangers’ 12th-round pick in 2000, took the 1-0 loss for the BayBears, permitting an eighth-inning run. Left fielder Vincent Sinisi (.125/.176/.156) singled in three trips, and second baseman Chris O’Riordan (.250/.333/.375), who was teammates with Hudgins at Stanford and in the Rangers system (Clinton 2003), went 0 for 2 with a walk.

Unemployed outfielder Richard Hidalgo is working out for the Yankees.

The San Angelo Colts of the independent United Baseball League signed lefthander Wilfredo Rodriguez. The Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden Baseball League signed third baseman Randall Shelley.

Rookie John Koronka vs. rookie Taylor Buchholz today. Here’s something completely meaningless for you to chew on:

Koronka and Buchholz have faced off four times in their careers (not counting once in the Arizona Fall League last year when Buchholz started and worked two scoreless frames for the Surprise Scorpions while Koronka finished the game with a perfect inning for the Mesa Solar Sox). In the three games that pitted Koronka against Buchholz as starters in 2004 and 2005, Koronka’s ERA was 9.82 and he surrendered 25 hits and six walks in 14.2 frames, fanning four. Buchholz had an 8.31 ERA in those games, permitting 10 hits and 10 walks in 8.2 innings, failing to strike anyone out.

Koronka had a hit, drew a walk, and drove in two runs in five trips off Buchholz.

Buchholz went 1 for 3 and drove in one run off Koronka.

You should obviously ignore all of the above. What’s important is that the two have been among the most impressive rookie starters in baseball this year, though Koronka’s last start (five runs in 4.2 innings of Tuesday’s meltdown in New York) and Buchholz’s last two (16 runs in 7.1 frames) have been their worst.

Sure would like to see Koronka (who is fighting a cold) straighten things out, not only to come away with a 5-3 road trip (and hey: the Silver Boot!), but more importantly to head into 10-game homestand against the AL West with the whole rotation on a roll.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 20, 2006

Devin Harris, that was awful. Falling apart when we needed you most. You need to step up in crunch time, not crater under its weight. We need the look in your eye to match up with the sick talent you’ve got, every time out. Especially when everything’s on the line.

Challenge the other guy. He can’t keep up. Stop looking over your shoulder. Look straight ahead, like you own the place. You’re that good.

I have no doubt that you’ll get there. Sure needed you to be there last night, and instead you panicked. But you’ll get there.

Joaquin Benoit?

Not so sure anymore.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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