NEW YORK -- The Rangers are still confident that their two top picks from this year's First-Year Player Draft will sign quickly, and general manager Jon Daniels said the club has made progress toward getting both pitcher Kevin Matthews and outfielder Zach Cone under contract.
"Hopefully we'll be able to get something done soon, but we're not at that point in the negotiations," Daniels said. "Both players want to get something done, but we have to iron out a few things. But we drafted both players in order to get something done in a relatively short time and get them out playing."
Cone, who was the 37th overall pick out of the University of Georgia, is expected to be with the Rangers this weekend during their three-game series with the Braves in Atlanta. Matthews is also from Georgia. He was the 33rd overall pick out of Richmond Hill (Ga.) High.
The Rangers signed left-handed pitcher Andrew Faulkner, their 14th-round pick out of S. Aiken (S.C.) High. They have signed 19 draft picks to this point.
Daniels willing to deal for 'pen help
NEW YORK -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels talked late Wednesday night with manager Ron Washington about their bullpen. Right now all they can do is talk.
Daniels is looking for ways to improve their bullpen, including having active discussions with other teams, but hasn't had much success. The Rangers have made it clear with other teams that they need bullpen help.
"It's something that we're open to, but it's easier said than done," Daniels said. "There are not a lot of clubs eager to move quality arms right now. We've got to be able to address it right now."
That could mean waiting until somebody comes off the disabled list, and that's not going to be right away. Darren O'Day (hip surgery) threw live batting practice again on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, but still hasn't pitched in games. Scott Feldman could be an option after a couple more outings on a rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues.
Tommy Hunter (strained groin) pitches Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock, but only pitched 3 2/3 innings in his last start. He may need at least a couple more starts before he is an option. Brandon Webb (shoulder surgery) likely needs at least two more starts before he'll be ready to return to the Major Leagues.
O'Day and Feldman could be added to the bullpen. Hunter or Webb could be added to the rotation, allowing Derek Holland to move back to the bullpen.
The Rangers still have Cody Eppley, Pedro Strop, Manny Delcarmen and Zachary Phillips at Round Rock, but don't appear eager to make a move. Delcarmen has extensive Major League experience, but he has allowed three runs in three innings since the Rangers signed him as a Minor League free agent earlier this month. Eppley is pitching the best, though he is still working on his slider.
"We're trying to avoid a constant shuffle," Daniels said. "The bullpen has been exposed the past few days because we have had some early knockouts from our starters and we had guys pitching in situations and roles they are not normally expected to be in.
"For example, we have [right-hander] Yoshinori Tateyama going through the heart of the Yankees' left-handed lineup. That's not what we got him for. It's a combination of a lot of things, but we need our starters to do what they were doing before this past week. It all works together."
The Rangers' bullpen has allowed 18 runs (14 earned) over their past four games, raising their season ERA to 4.52, the third-highest mark in the American League.
"It hasn't been as effective as we need it to be," Daniels said. "We haven't hit our stride yet. It would help if a couple of guys come back healthy, but we need to be more consistent. The bottom line is it needs to be better."
Daniels is not shy about making trades. Last year he made five separate deals to upgrade the club on its way to a division title. Right now, though, not many teams have fallen far enough out of contention to be classified as "sellers."
The Orioles are willing to talk about Koji Uehara and possibly Jim Johnson and/or Kevin Gregg. The Twins are climbing back into the AL Central race, so they're holding on to their best bullpen pieces, but the Royals are willing to talk about Joakim Soria, whose struggles took him out of the closer's role.
The Rangers have had discussions with the Nationals about their deep bullpen, including Todd Coffey and Tyler Clippard, and the Marlins may become sellers again now that they've plummented in the NL East. Their bullpen has been strong, with Burke Badenhop, Edward Mujica, Brian Sanches and Randy Choate all pitching well.
The Giants are looking for catching and are scouting Taylor Teagarden. If there is a big prize out of the bullpen at the Trade Deadline, it could be Padres closer Heath Bell. Or the Rangers could talk to the Cubs about Kerry Wood. Daniels is willing to make an impact trade.
"I'm always open to it, but I'm not sure I see that guy out there," Daniels said.
Yanks disagree with Torrealba over sign stealing
NEW YORK -- As the Yankees have pushed across 24 runs in the first two games of this series, Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba has grown a bit suspicious -- paranoid, some Yankees players would say -- that the opposition is stealing his signs.
He confronted Mark Teixeira about it on Tuesday, with the first baseman saying he "didn't have anything." Then, while making a trip to the mound in the fifth inning of the Yankees' 12-4 win on Wednesday night, he shouted at Andruw Jones for allegedly picking up signs and relaying pitch selection while the outfielder was on second base.
That part seemed to irk Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
"He's yelling at one of our guys, and I don't appreciate that," the former catcher said. "I'm going to protect my guys."
Jones said Torrealba "tried to make some excuses for them getting their butt kicked."
"He came out there and yelled that out, and I didn't appreciate it that much," Jones said. "But it's not an excuse when the guy's leaving pitches out over the plate and they're getting hits."
Torrealba acknowledged stealing signs is common in baseball, but added: "When you do it so obvious, you have to say something."
"We could all be wrong, but we could all be right," Torrealba said. "So, I decided to say something. I don't take it personally. I don't take any credit from them. I don't even think they needed to do that. We were making a lot of bad pitches, and they hit a lot of mistakes."
The Yankees, winners of five of their last six, have notched 12 runs in each of the first two games of this series while cranking out 26 hits. On Wednesday, they hit five homers and tagged Rangers starter Derek Holland for six runs in five innings.
Texas skipper Ron Washington, whose club has dropped four straight, said even if the Yankees are stealing signs, "It's not a story."
"You think that's a secret that guys are doing that?" Washington said. "There's a lot of teams out there doing that."
And there's apparently plenty of paranoia.
Teixeira recalled a time in 2005 when he was with the Rangers, and White Sox starter Mark Buehrle blanked them his first time at home, then got lit up in Arlington the next time he faced them. Buehrle had the wild notion that Texas was getting signs from someone in center field, who was then relaying them to the scoreboard operator, who was putting flashing lights in the scoreboard to tip off the home hitters.
"I think sometimes guys get paranoid," Teixeira said. "And you know what, he's a competitor. Torrealba is trying to win a game, and he's trying to figure something out. But I didn't have anything."
Cruz gets day off as struggles mount
NEW YORK -- Nelson Cruz was out of the Rangers' lineup on Thursday as he works with new hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh on his swing. Cruz went into Thursday's game with just two hits in his last 29 at-bats. One of those hits was a home run, but he has also struck out 11 times in 29 at-bats.
"I understand it's part of the game, something that comes and goes," Cruz said.
Cruz said he has been working with Coolbaugh on his front foot. Cruz said he has been landing flat-footed and it's causing him to lunge at the ball. In doing so, he has been unable to reach the outside pitch.
"I felt good yesterday," Cruz said. "I didn't get any hits, but it's just a matter of time to get it done."
Outfielder Josh Hamilton will appear on the David Letterman Show on Thursday. The segment was taped on Monday.
The Rangers, after giving up five home runs on Thursday, have allowed 85 on the season, the most in the American League.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba had five stolen bases against him in Wednesday's game. It's the second time that has happened in his career.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.