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.

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