THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 27, 2006

Robinson Tejeda’s stint with Texas, this time, lasted three innings. Three innings on Saturday that took a staggering 85 pitches to get through. Only 48 were strikes.

Tejeda faced 20 Rockies. Two took him deep. Two others smacked doubles, three others singled, three walked.

Tejeda even drilled his mound opponent, Josh Fogg, an 0-for-25 hitter.

These are not times that call for patience or pity, or for much leash. Tejeda was returned to Oklahoma after giving the Rangers very little to work with, and though the demotion was likely going to happen had he done anything short of throwing eight shutout innings, the difference now is that he probably falls behind two or three other candidates to spot-start for Texas anytime soon.

Is one of those candidates Nick Masset? Probably not, at least not yet. But at the same time, the purchase of Masset to give Texas an emergency arm between the Tejeda start and this weekend’s return of John Wasdin was no Robert Ellis move, no Alan Benes. If you heard Rangers officials talk this weekend about Masset, who is a big leaguer for the first time, he was the player the organization was most worried about losing in the Rule 5 Draft in December.

The 24-year-old is a groundball machine in a prototype pitcher’s frame, featuring a four-seam fastball that touches the mid-90s, an effective cut fastball, an improving change and solid curve, and one of the system’s dirtiest sinkers. He’s gone through more than his share of baseball highs and lows since Tommy John surgery as a high school senior turned him from a likely first-rounder into an eighth-round draft-and-follow, but the signs are pointing in the right direction for Masset right now, who was a strong candidate to be reinstated to the 40-man roster this winter even if he hadn’t been summoned to Texas during the season.

Masset, who was 2-2, 2.08 in eight Frisco starts, holding the Texas League to a .213 average with a sturdy 2.23 groundball-to-flyball ratio, was promoted to AAA for good in late May (he made a spot start for Oklahoma on May 11), and it’s been a rough month. In five RedHawk starts and one relief appearance, Masset is 1-4, 6.47. He’s not ready for a big league rotation, and he may not see one big league hitter this week before returning to Oklahoma City, but it’s been a second breakthrough season for the 2000 draftee, and it might not be a stretch to suggest that if Texas had to give up either Tejeda or Masset to complete a hypothetical deal, Tejeda might be the one the club would part with first. It would at least generate a conversation.

Most fans surely would have ranked the Rangers’ three end-of-camp pitching acquisitions, in terms of their chances to help in 2006, as Tejeda, then John Koronka, then John Rheinecker. Funny how that’s turned out.

This isn’t particularly promising: Texas had originally planned for Frankie Francisco to pitch on Friday night, which would have been his second straight day of work and perhaps the final hurdle before rejoining the big league bullpen on the club’s next homestand. Instead, he was held out due to what’s been described as minor muscle soreness in his elbow area, and he not only sat out on Friday, but has yet to return to the mound. Don’t count on him for the Astros series this weekend. I’ll be happy if we see him pitching anywhere by this weekend.

As for Josh Rupe, rehabbing at Frisco just as Francisco is, Rangers pitching coach Mark Connor told reporters not to expect him back in the major leagues before the All-Star Break.

Wasdin gave up one hit and no walks in a scoreless, five-inning rehab effort for Oklahoma on Sunday. He’s slated to start against Houston on Saturday.

Adam Eaton will try throwing curveballs for the first time today since finger surgery at the end of camp.

Redhawk third baseman Aarom Baldiris was activated off the disabled list this weekend, having missed five weeks with a broken bone in his right hand. He had a brief two-game rehab stint in Surprise, going 4 for 7 with a double and two walks.

John Danks made his AAA debut on Saturday, one-hitting New Orleans through five shutout innings before tiring in the sixth. He walked the leadoff hitter in the inning, committed an error when the next batter laid down a bunt in what was then a scoreless game, and then yielded two straight singles before exiting the game. In all, Danks was credited with three runs (two earned) on three hits and three walks in five-plus innings, fanning four Zephyrs.

Outfielder Anthony Webster, who was promoted to AAA at the same time as Danks, has started in all five RedHawk games since arriving in Oklahoma City, and has hit safely in each of them.

Tonight’s California/Carolina League All-Star Game features Bakersfield representatives Eric Hurley and Jesse Ingram. It might be Hurley’s last Class A act, or close to it.

Spokane catcher Chad Tracy, the Rangers’ third-round pick three weeks ago, went deep for the first time last night. In his first 18 pro at-bats, he’s hitting .389/.450/.667.

Clinton third baseman Johnny Whittleman (.215/.317/.310) hit his first professional home run on Saturday.

On the same day, 17-year-old righthander Fabio Castillo made his stateside debut for the Arizona League squad, blanking the Marlins on a single and two walks over three innings, punching out four. Fellow Dominican righthander Omar Beltre (0-1, 0.64) has now fired two gems in the Dominican Summer League, scattering eight hits and one walk in 14 frames, fanning 16. Castillo and Beltre, along with Edinson Volquez, are the highest-profile (and highest-priced) Latin American pitchers signed by the Rangers over the last six years.

Cool story on Arizona League lefthander Jared Locke. Make sure you check Mike Hindman’s farm report today.

Oakland signed infielder D’Angelo Jimenez to a minor league deal.

Quick Newberg Report mention on ESPN.com this weekend.

For the latest information on the toy drive for Newberg Report Night at Ameriquest Field this Sunday, go to http://www.mydataterrier.com/tos.aspx.

One extra prize for the toy drive raffle, donated by the great Grant Schiller: a baseball signed last night by Frisco RoughRiders Thomas Diamond, Travis Metcalf, Mike Nickeas, Nate Gold, Kevin Mahar, Jake Blalock, Jesse Chavez, Francisco, and Rupe.

If you still want to attend Sunday night’s game with us, there’s a few spots left. Email me at newbergreport@sbcglobal.net.

Looks like we might not get Roger Clemens that night, but we should get Kevin Millwood.

I’ll be on Kia Sports Talk tonight with host Brady Tinker on KFWD TV, channel 52, at 7:30 p.m.

To repeat Sunday night’s email about the Grand Opening of the Newberg Report eStore, these specials are good through July 15:

DISCOUNTS

2006 Bound Edition: discounted from $25 to $20
2005 Bound Edition: discounted from $20 to $15
2004 Bound Edition: discounted from $20 to $15
2002 Bound Edition: discounted from $15 to $12
2001 Bound Edition: discounted from $15 to $12
1999 Bound Edition: discounted from $10 to $7

Set of all six Bound Editions: discounted from $105 to $80

Newberg Report T-shirts: Take $2 off each shirt (regularly $15-$17)

BONUS

With every purchase of at least $50, you will receive a voucher good for two Upper Level tickets to any Sunday-Friday regular season home game at Ameriquest Field (excluding June 30, July 1, July 4 and July 24-26). [Limited to first 100 customers.]

Feel free to take the eStore for a spin. As always, you can make your purchases by check, or by credit card through PayPal.

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

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