Blanco returns to backup role for Rangers
Health of infield allows club to shift veteran back to bench
ARLINGTON -- Andres Blanco was out of the Rangers' starting lineup against the Yankees on Friday night. With shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler both healthy again, Blanco is back to his role as a utility infielder. He had started 22 of the Rangers' previous 27 games.The Rangers have three utility infielders right now: Blanco, Cristian Guzman and Esteban German. If the club decides to carry just one in the playoffs, it appears Blanco will be that guy. Manager Ron Washington was asked if Blanco has earned a spot on the postseason roster by virtue of the way he has played lately. "I never had any doubts he was going to be on [the roster]," Washington said. There seemed to be major doubts, though, after the Rangers acquired Guzman just before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. At that point, it appeared as if Guzman had the inside track on being the Rangers' utility infielder in the postseason. That no longer appears to be the case. In 22 games since Aug. 13, Blanco has hit .338 with eight doubles, a triple, nine RBIs and eight runs scored. "He's doing well," Washington said. "He's got a great work ethic. The way he worked when he wasn't playing is the reason why he's doing [well] now."
Hamilton's return to Rangers not near
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are not getting outfielder Josh Hamilton back any time soon. Hamilton, sidelined with a bruised left rib cage, said on Friday that the injury is not showing any signs of improvement.The Rangers still believe there is time for Hamilton to get ready for the playoffs, but his return to the lineup is not close to being imminent. "It feels about the same way as it did the day after [the injury]," said Hamilton, who hurt his rib cage while crashing into a wall at Minnesota on Sept. 4. Hamilton had additional X-rays on the rib cage on Monday, and the results showed no structural damage. The diagnosis is still a bruised rib cage. He may have a CT scan later this week if there continues to be little in the way of improvement. Hamilton has done little in the way of baseball activities since the injury occurred. He tried throwing on Tuesday in Toronto, and that didn't go well. "It was a little bit of a setback," Hamilton said. "Right now, I'm day-to-day. I might wake up in a day or two and feel good enough. I'll know when it happens. I don't want to have any setbacks." The Rangers, entering Friday's series opener with the Yankees, still had 22 games left in the season, and their first playoff game wouldn't be until Oct. 6. But Hamilton isn't really interested in sitting out the rest of the regular season just to be ready for the playoffs. "For me, there's always urgency," Hamilton said. "I want to be in there helping finish off the season and get into the playoffs. I'm not counting on us making the playoffs; I want to continue to fight the rest of the season. I'm not taking anything for granted." Hamilton continues to lead the American League with a .361 average. He also has 31 home runs, 97 RBIs, a .414 on-base percentage and a .635 slugging percentage.
Kinsler ejected for arguing called strike
ARLINGTON -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler was thrown out of Friday's 13-inning, 6-5 win over the Yankees in the 10th inning for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Dale Scott.Kinsler was batting with a runner on second and one out when he took an 0-2 cutter from Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera that he thought was low and inside. Scott called it strike three, and Kinsler didn't like it. After the game, Kinsler offered little in the way of analysis.
"No comment on the ejection," Kinsler said. "I said some things I shouldn't have said." Kinsler yelled at Scott immediately and walked away. But he kept on yelling as he walked to the dugout, and Scott tossed Kinsler from the game. Andres Blanco replaced Kinsler at second.This is the second time that Kinsler has been ejected from a game this season. He was also tossed on June 25 against the Astros. The only other Rangers player to be ejected this season was Matt Treanor on May 13.
MRI may reveal Francisco's timeline
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Frank Francisco, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 28 with a strained muscle in his right rib cage, has still not resumed throwing, and his return by the postseason may be in question.Francisco is expected to undergo another MRI on Monday, and that may determine if he can resume throwing. "It feels better," Francisco said. "I've done a lot of exercises and weight lifting, but I haven't thrown. I want to make sure I come back 100 percent." Francisco has been the Rangers' primary eighth-inning setup reliever, and the club has been going with right-hander Darren O'Day and lefty Darren Oliver since Francisco went down. Because Francisco is a short reliever, the Rangers don't think he'll take long to get ready once he is cleared to resume throwing. But his timeline remains unclear. Manager Ron Washington would like to see Francisco pitch at least a game or two at the Major League level before the regular season is over. "If I can, I can. ... If I can't, I can't do a lot about it," Francisco said. "We're doing the right thing, making sure I'm ready to go. I don't want to go out there and throw and take five or six days back, then go out and throw and keep going back and forth."
Hamstring '100 percent,' Andrus returns
ARLINGTON -- Shortstop Elvis Andrus was back in the Rangers' starting lineup on Friday against the Yankees after missing five games with a tight right hamstring.Andrus said he could have played the Rangers' past two games, in Toronto, but the club did not want the shortstop to re-injure himself on Rogers Centre's artificial turf. "So they gave me a couple of extra days," Andrus said. "I'm refreshed and ready to go. I'm 100 percent. "My legs will continue to get treatment. I still need to take care of them. I can't say I won't have any more problems but right now I'm 100 percent."
Rangers' rotation set through September
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will have two days off next week, but they will not use them to alter their starting rotation in any way.Right now, manager Ron Washington said the rotation is set up for the rest of the year so that ace Cliff Lee is ready to start Game 1 of the playoffs. In the meantime, the Rangers will use their two off-days next week to allow all their starters get extra rest. Unless something unforeseen occurs, lefty C.J. Wilson -- who started on Friday against the Yankees -- won't start again until next Friday, Sept. 17, in Seattle. "If all of that works out, Cliff Lee will get the first game [of the playoffs]," Washington said. Lee missed his last start because of some stiffness in his lower back, but he's scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the Yankees. Derek Holland and Colby Lewis will pitch in the Rangers' two-game series against the Tigers next week.
Left-hander Clay Rapada could be earning a spot on the Rangers' postseason roster. Said manager Ron Washingon: "It's nice to have a guy like that who can come in and get left-handers." ... The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation received the Boys & Girls Club of Arlington Champion of Youth Award on Friday. The award was given at the Champions for Kids Luncheon in Arlington for the ballclub's financial support and assistance to the organization. ... Vladimir Guerrero ended up hitting .541 against the Blue Jays this season, the highest average by any hitter against one club with at least 30 at-bats. ... Closer Neftali Feliz has 35 saves this season, two short of the Major League record for a rookie reliever. That mark was set in 2000 by Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Mariners. Todd Worrell had 36 saves for the Cardinals in 1986.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.