THE NEWBERG REPORT — AUGUST 6, 2006

A couple unrelated looks back at a year ago this time:

1. The Rangers were 56-54 after defeating Baltimore on the first Sunday in August 2005, and then embarked on a two-week road trip, losing the opener in Boston to fall to 56-55, which is the same record the club has today.

That road trip turned out to be the 1-12 disaster that killed the Rangers’ season.

Texas is 4-2 on its current trip, and the vibe feels a lot better than it did a year ago.

The club’s rotation at this time last year was Kenny Rogers (just back from his two-week suspension), Chris Young, Joaquin Benoit, John Wasdin, and Ricardo Rodriguez. Today the rotation is anchored by Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla, boosted by the arrivals and relatively fresh arms of veteran righthanders Adam Eaton and Kip Wells, and rounded out by John Koronka.

Koronka has had a pretty good month and a half, with only one meltdown until yesterday, when he seemed to treat the fact that the pitcher-generous Tim Timmons was calling balls and strikes as an opportunity to nibble. Frustrating.

Koronka’s next start will open the club’s next homestand, Thursday against Seattle. If he doesn’t bounce back that night, he could be skipped the next time around.

2. On July 27, 2005, Nate Gold’s batting average with Bakersfield dipped to a season-low .265, with 15 home runs and 59 RBI in 351 at-bats.

Since then, Gold has hit .301/.377/.571 in 30 Bakersfield at-bats and 438 Frisco at-bats, with 32 homers and 110 RBI. He’s coming off a standout July, in which he hit .325/.385/.709 for the RoughRiders.

Gold was left off the 40-man roster after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and probably wasn’t a strong candidate either time. He should at least generate a discussion this November.

Righthander Kameron Loe was activated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned to Oklahoma.

The Rangers released Wasdin.

Righthander Frankie Francisco threw in the Frisco bullpen yesterday and could rejoin the RoughRiders’ bullpen soon.

Oklahoma righthanders Edinson Volquez (right elbow tendonitis, calf strain) and Ryan Bukvich (right elbow soreness) and outfielder Jason Botts (right wrist) were placed on the disabled list. Volquez should miss just one start.

Botts broke the hamate bone in his right hand and had surgery that will keep him out until mid-September, when the minor league seasons will have ended. He might rejoin Texas at that point. Botts finishes with a RedHawks line of .309/.398/.582, with 13 home runs, 19 doubles, and 39 RBI in 220 at-bats.

Oklahoma got its third straight shutout win yesterday, behind John Rheinecker, Scott Feldman, and Kevin Walker. Derek Lee, Nick Masset, and Erasmo Ramirez did the deed on Friday, after R.A. Dickey went the distance on Thursday, throwing a two-hitter while walking one and fanning six.

Texas traded catcher Nick Trzesniak, who spent most of the year at Oklahoma (.255/.316/.329) but had been rehabbing a groin injury in the Arizona League, sending him to Florida for future considerations.

Bakersfield catcher Justin Hatcher was released. If you’ve met Justin, you know that no matter what he does next, he’ll be a success at it.

Clinton outfielder Joe Kemp is now Clinton lefthander Joe Kemp. After hitting .248/.316/.393 in 262 LumberKing at-bats, the 2004 42nd-rounder has been converted to the mound. In his first two relief appearances, one inning each, he allowed three runs on a hit and three walks, fanning three.

Promoted from Clinton to Bakersfield: catcher Brian Valichka. From Spokane to Clinton: outfielder Grant Gerrard, first baseman Chris Kemp, and pitcher Glenn Swanson. From the Arizona League to Clinton: catcher Carlos Dominguez and pitcher Jon Hollis. From the Arizona League to Spokane: pitcher Jeremiah Haar.

Demoted from Clinton to Spokane: outfielder K.C. Herren and righthander Kyle Rogers. From Spokane to the Arizona League: pitcher Shannon Wirth. From Clinton to the Arizona League: catcher Alberto Martinez.

Righthander Armando Galarraga’s rehab assignment has been transferred from the Arizona League to Spokane. Frisco righthander Ryan Jensen was activated from the disabled list.

The Rangers named Spokane left fielder-first baseman Chris Davis (.343/.389/.758, 10 homers, 11 doubles, 25 RBI) and Bakersfield righthander Doug Mathis (3-1, 2.58 in six starts, 36 strikeouts and 12 walks in 38.1 frames) their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month.

Davis, the Rangers’ 20-year-old fifth-round pick in June out of Navarro Junior College, leads the Northwest League in slugging, OPS, home runs, doubles, and total bases.

California League managers and scouts named Bakersfield’s Ben Harrison and Tug Hulett, both now at Frisco, as the circuit’s best power prospect and hitter with the best strike zone judgment. Nelson Cruz, now with Texas, was the top power prospect in the Pacific Coast League, and Freddy Guzman was judged the league’s fastest baserunner.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Marcus Lemon received a $1 million bonus to sign a week ago. In his first 21 Arizona League at-bats, the shortstop is hitting .333/.417/.476.

Boston designated righthander Bryan Corey for assignment, after the reliever had pitched just one inning. The Red Sox also designated catcher Ken Huckaby for assignment.

Fernando Tatis is back in the big leagues. Baltimore purchased the 31-year-old’s AAA contract and he’s gone 5 for 12 (.417/.462/.833) with two doubles and a homer, DH’ing four times and playing once at third base and once in right field.

Do you realize that former Ranger outfielder Marcus Thames, in a career-high 259 Detroit at-bats, already has 20 home runs?

Oakland purchased the contract of infielder D’Angelo Jimenez from AAA Sacramento. The Yankees recalled righthander Jose Veras from AAA Columbus.

Righthander Juan Dominguez is 5-10, 5.85 in 16 starts and one relief appearance for Sacramento. The Pacific Coast League is hitting .301 off him.

As Mike Hindman noted in his farm report this morning, righthander John Hudgins, now with AAA Portland in the San Diego system, has been shut down with elbow pain and may need Tommy John surgery, according to Oklahoma radio play-by-play broadcaster Jim Byers.

Righthander Spike Lundberg is 10-1, 2.00 in 18 starts for AA Jacksonville in the Dodgers system, holding Southern League hitters to a .212 average.

St. Louis signed righthander Ricardo Rodriguez. San Francisco re-signed lefthander Michael Tejera. Houston released righthander Chris Baker.

Eaton vs. Joe Saunders this afternoon, before a huge trip to Oakland. Big.

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

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