ARLINGTON -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler has been cleared to begin a medical rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Frisco on Saturday. Kinsler has been on the disabled list since July 29 with a strained left groin muscle.The plan is for him to play four games at Frisco and then be activated next Friday when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Twins in Minnesota. "If it were my decision, I'd play tonight," Kinsler said. "But everybody is trying to be as smart as possible, so I might as well use the time wisely." The Rangers also assigned infielder Cristian Guzman (strained right quad muscle) and Dustin Nippert (head injury) to Frisco on rehab assignments beginning Friday night. Both will likely be activated after Sept. 1 when the rosters are expanded. With Kinsler and Guzman out, Andres Blanco has been playing second base for the Rangers. But manager Ron Washington said Alex Cora will start there Saturday and Sunday. Blanco will get the day off on Saturday and then move to shortstop on Sunday so that Elvis Andrus can get a day off.
Francisco to have MRI after straining ribcage
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Frank Francisco made his first appearance in six days, but it did not last long.Francisco faced just two batters on Friday night during the Rangers' 7-3 win over the A's before being pulled from the game because of a strained ribcage muscle, and he will have an MRI on Saturday. It's the same muscle that has bothered him all week. "I felt it pull again," Francisco said. "I just decided to stop. I didn't want to make it worse." Francisco needed one pitch to retire the last batter of the eighth inning. He got Kevin Kouzmanoff on a fly to left but then, trying to protect a 7-3 lead, he walked Jeff Larish to start the ninth. Rangers manager Ron Washington said the club will know more after the MRI on Saturday. There is a possibility Francisco could go on the disabled list. By doing that, the Rangers could call up another pitcher from Triple-A -- Derek Holland or Pedro Strop -- who would then be eligible for the postseason. To be eligible for the postseason roster, a player either has to be on the active roster or the disabled list on Aug. 31. Francisco had pitched just twice in the Rangers' past 14 games while dealing with the strained muscle in the right ribcage. He had a cortisone shot earlier this week and this was his first time on the mound since getting injected on Monday.
Rangers would have welcomed Manny
ARLINGTON -- The fact that the Rangers put in a waiver claim on Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez did not cause much of a ripple in the clubhouse.That the Rangers were willing to pick up the remaining $4 million on his salary does reinforce the aggressiveness the new ownership is showing in pursuit of on-field success. But the Rangers aren't getting Ramirez. The Chicago White Sox also claimed Ramirez and, since they have a worse record than the Rangers, they were awarded him on Friday afternoon. The Dodgers, who put Ramirez on waivers earlier this week, have until Tuesday to pull him back off waivers, work out a trade with the White Sox or simply let them have him. "I'm sure he'll help the White Sox," third baseman Michael Young said. "He's one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time. He can help someone." Ramirez is hitting .313 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs in 64 games and 195 at-bats this seaon. He has a .407 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage. But he is also 38, questionable defensively and has been on the disabled list three different times this season. "Interesting ... it really is," veteran reliever Darren Oliver said. "If we got the Manny Ramirez of old, it would have been great. But we didn't get him, so it's just speculation." Ramirez also brings a reputation for being high maintenance as a teammate and a player. But that probably wouldn't have been an issue with the Rangers. "We would have welcomed him with open arms," Young said. "We don't have to worry about that because he's not here. But if he had come, we would have done the same thing we have done all year. We would have welcomed our new teammate with open arms."
Hamilton to bat third rest of the season
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said Josh Hamilton will stay in the No. 3 spot in the batting order, even after Ian Kinsler returns from the disabled list. Kinsler was batting third before he went on the DL, but Washington wants to keep Hamilton there for the rest of the season."It's obvious I'm wearing out trying to describe what Hamilton brings to this team," Washington said. "He brings power, he brings speed, he brings presence." Vladimir Guerrero will remain in the cleanup spot, so it will likely be Nelson Cruz in the fifth slot and Kinsler batting sixth. Cruz is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, but is expected to be activated on Monday. He was 1-for-5 in his first rehab game for Double-A Frisco on Thursday. He hasn't been out as long as Kinsler, and his injury wasn't as serious, so he is far closer to being baseball-ready. "It really depends on how Kinsler is swinging the bat," Washington said. "I have no problem with Cruz swinging the bat. We put him on the disabled list for precautionary reasons. He never stopped working."
Vlad starting to heat up at the plate
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are starting to get excited again about what Vladimir Guerrero is showing at the plate. He had home runs on both Wednesday and Thursday night, and went into Friday's game hitting .346 (18-for-52) with three home runs and nine RBIs in his past 13 games."No matter how bad he is going, you know that one swing of the bat can make a difference," manager Ron Washington said. "This is not his first time struggling. He never changed. If he was frustrated, he did a heckuva job containing it. "He did everything he could to come out of it, so it was just a matter of waiting. He's still hitting .300, he's close to 30 bombs and he's close to 100 RBI. What do you want? We all struggle. He doesn't need us when he's going good. He needs us when he's struggling. He needs somebody to show him confidence. My job is to have confidence in him." Guerrero has 1,413 career RBIs, 67th most in Major League history. He needs one to catch Mark McGwire, who is next on the list. His 431 career home runs are tied for 39th with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.
Eye on the Rangers' pitching staff
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers haven't decided yet if they'll use some of the upcoming off-days to give Cliff Lee extra rest or if they'll keep him pitching every fifth day. Scott Feldman (bone bruise in his right knee) is scheduled to resume his throwing program after getting a cortisone shot on Monday and being shut down for three days. Rangers relievers, going into Friday's game, have a 1.06 ERA in their past eight games.
Crawford firefighter Tyler Morris was at the Ballpark on Friday for Firefighter Appreciation Night. Morris was the fan who fell 30 feet from the second deck of the Ballpark on July 6, suffering a fractured skull and fractured ankle. He participated in pre-game ceremonies with some of the emergency personnel who attended to him that night.Matt Treanor was in the lineup at catcher on Friday night and will be there again on Saturday with Rich Harden on the mound. ... The Rangers are the only Major League team that hasn't been shut out at home this season. ... The Rangers are expecting a complete sellout on Saturday. Mercy Me will perform in concert beginning at 5 p.m. CT on the North Lawn.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.