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02/22/10 8:59 PM EST
Blalock still without a team
Former teammates surprised free agent is without a job
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers hold their first full-squad workout on Wednesday. Hank Blalock will not be here. He was not expected. Blalock is a free agent and the Rangers made it clear at the end of the season they were not going to re-sign him. What is surprising to his former teammates is that nobody has signed him. Spring Training is underway and Blalock still does not have a job. "It is surprising, absolutely," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "I don't know if teams think he can't play defense or injuries are the problem. But the guy showed he can play third base in the past and last year he showed he could play an above-average first base. He surprised me how well he played there last year. "He's a good player ... a very good player. He should be with some team." Blalock played in 123 games for the Rangers last year and batted .234 with 21 doubles, 25 home runs and 66 RBIs in 495 plate appearances. He had a .277 on-base percentage and a .459 slugging percentage. The on-base percentage was too low. Blalock, who has a career on-base percentage of .329, had the fifth-lowest on-base percentage last year among 222 Major League players with at least 400 plate appearances. But in his last 162 games played, going back to July 22, 2008, Blalock, who is just 29, is hitting .248 with 85 runs scored, 35 doubles, 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. That includes a .251 batting average with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 183 at-bats against left-handed pitchers. "He had a down year in terms of batting average, but he showed he can still hit for power," outfielder David Murphy said. "I don't think he gets credit for the defense he played at first base. I don't know what his splits were but he had some great at-bats against lefties. I don't know what will happen but a guy with his career numbers should have a job somewhere." There was some interest from the Braves, Pirates and Orioles earlier in the offseason, but nothing has materialized. The Indians apparently had some interest late but ended up signing Russell Branyan. "It's tough to see a guy like that not have a job," first baseman Chris Davis said. "We miss him here. He was a great guy to have in the clubhouse. I hope he gets the opportunity to compete for a job."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.