Just when it seemed like the awful defense of the first half of the season was a distant, bad memory, there it was the past two nights, two narrow losses, made even more stomach-turning when contrasted with the crisp, athletic, aggressive defense turned in by the Twins.

On Sunday, Vicente Padilla got himself tossed without getting an out.

On Monday, he apologized to his teammates (though, reportedly, not on his own initiative).

On Tuesday, the league suspended him for seven games.

On Wednesday, he will nonetheless pitch.

Padilla gets the ball tonight because his 10-pitch effort on Sunday leaves him fresh enough to start the series finale in Minnesota, and because his appeal of the suspension stays his deactivation. What the pending suspension does mean is that, with 11 games to go, tonight is probably the final appearance of Padilla’s inadequate 2007 season.

Unless he’s needed in long relief tonight, righthander Luis Mendoza should get Friday’s start against Baltimore.

Lefthander Kason Gabbard has been shut down for the season because of forearm stiffness. That’s a scary story given Gabbard’s elbow history, but the team is characterizing the decision as simply precautionary. Gabbard has already turned in a career-high workload, and there’s no sense putting him back on the mound with a minor injury, which through compensation could lead to something far worse.

Righthander Edinson Volquez should get two more starts, two more opportunities to prove that his late-season audition is as indicative of his long-term dependability as Chris Young’s September 2004 was, and not the tease that Kameron Loe’s September 2005 was or the absolute mirage that Robinson Tejeda’s September 2006 was.

These last two series have killed any thought of reaching .500 for the season. The Rangers have now lost 81 games.

Jason Botts’s September OPS: .924.

Michael Young needs to go 10 for 45 (.222) over the final 11 games of the season to reach 200 hits.

I had a game against Adamson my junior year when I made three errors at shortstop. I’ll never forget it, much as I try to.

But my kids still love me. True, they weren’t around back then, but they weren’t in front of the set last night for Young’s tough game in the field, either (and even if they saw it, they’d still love him, too).

I’m guessing Cristina and Mateo aren’t in Minnesota with Michael, and he probably went to bed thinking about those three errors (not his three hits) and will wake up this morning thinking about the same thing. I wish he had his kid with him to help take his mind off that game. I wish it happened in May, rather than with a week a half to go before a five-month off-season.

There are flaws in Young’s defensive game, but throwing the ball and making the play coming in have never been among them. Last night was an aberration, even if Young isn’t the type who would ever look for a way to shrug it off. He’s going to get that 200th hit sometime next week, but he won’t have another defensive game like last night’s, not next week, not next year, probably not ever.

My guess is that Young’s going to think about last night’s game for a long time. But I’m confident that it won’t affect his play going forward, unless it’s to make him even more dependable on those same plays than he already is. One of the great things about Young’s game, and his personality, is that he doesn’t let a bad day in the field, or a rough first month of the season, or general manager’s opinion that he wouldn’t hit enough to be a starting big league infielder get him down.

He always uses adversity to get better, to get stronger, to prove his detractors wrong, and that’s one of the main reasons I’m so happy he’s Erica and Max’s favorite baseball player.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at

1 Comment

With guys like Botts,Salty, Velzquez, Mendoza, and Gabbard, coupled with Andrus down the road, the young nucleus the Rangers have will be real exciting to watch for a long time…

Padilla is a frustrating guy. As a Phillies fan, I’ve always loved his potential, but hated his attitude and sluggish ways. If he focuses on not beinga headhunter, and block out his frustrations he could be a great pitcher.

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