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03/29/07 4:00 PM ET
Gagne to start season on disabled list
Reliever needs more innings before pitching in Major Leagues
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers broke camp on Thursday and are ready to head back to Texas. Reliever Eric Gagne wasn't with them, and he won't pitch for them for another two weeks. The Rangers have decided to put Gagne on the disabled list and give him more time to get ready for the season. Gagne, who has pitched in just 16 games over the past two seasons, has appeared in only three exhibition games this spring. "This is really us being overcautious," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He feels great, and he felt great after he pitched [on Tuesday]. He wants to be with the team. But we're going to play it safe and make sure he's 100 percent healthy for the season." Gagne underwent back surgery on July 8, 2006, and elbow surgery on June 24, 2005, and he still is trying to regain full arm strength after two years of near inactivity. "I know from experience you just can't put a date on anything," Gagne said. "They're pulling the reins in on me, and it's good. They feel there's no reason for me to push it, and I totally understand it. I don't feel I need a lot of innings. But, do I need some innings? Yeah, maybe." Akinori Otsuka, who saved 32 games for the Rangers last year, will be the closer again until Gagne comes back. But manager Ron Washington said Gagne will be the closer when he is ready to come off the disabled list. Kameron Loe and Joaquin Benoit will help fill Otsuka's eighth-inning role. Asked if Gagne would be considered for another role, Washington said: "No chance. Gagne will stay in the closer's role." The Rangers are hoping to get Gagne into seven Minor League games, including back-to-back contests on April 6-7 with Double-A Frisco. If all goes well, his final appearance on the medical rehabilitation assignment will be April 10. He then would join the Rangers and be activated on April 13 in Seattle. "Back to back is not the beat-all, but it would be good to get him in back-to-back games," pitching coach Mark Connor said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.