07/10/10 4:02 AM ET
Lee making his Rangers debut against Orioles
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Take Matt Harrison, for instance, who was originally expected to start Saturday's game. Texas, instead, plans on using Harrison in the bullpen, where he can serve as a compliment to fellow left-hander Darren Oliver.
"He'll help Ollie out," said Texas manager Ron Washington of Harrison's new role. "Since Harrison's been gone, we've certainly missed him. ... We've been having to run Ollie out there a little more regularly than we want to."
And now, that's a problem of the past. The Rangers have upgraded their rotation by adding Lee for the stretch run, and they've done it without demonstrably weakening their team this year. First baseman Justin Smoak -- a recent first-round Draft pick -- was the biggest piece surrendered by the Rangers to Seattle, and the rookie's first-year production is easily replaceable.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will be gauging the performance of its own acquisition from the Seattle organization. The Orioles will be looking forward to the return of prospect Chris Tillman, originally added from Seattle in the Erik Bedard trade. Tillman has been erratic as an Oriole, but he's coming off one of his strongest outings of his Minor League career.
The right-hander, who threw a no-hitter earlier this season, fired a complete game one-hitter in his last start for Triple-A Norfolk. Tillman is 8-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his last 10 outings for Norfolk, and he's trying to bring that same success to the Majors. Tillman, just 22 years old, has gone 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA in his first four starts for the Orioles.
The Rangers will be excited to watch Lee, but they'll have another veteran on their mind. Right-hander Rich Harden, who's currently sidelined with a gluteal strain, is expected to make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. Texas has already scheduled one more rehab start for Harden and could have even more if he's not ready to return.
Orioles: Wigginton staying hot
Ty Wigginton, Baltimore's lone All-Star, is still reaping the benefits of a ridiculously hot start. Wigginton, who hit just 11 home runs last season, managed to hit .288 (49-for-170) with 13 home runs in April and May. The power went off at that point, though, and Wigginton hit just .209 in June and has driven just one ball out of the park in his past 40 games.
Still, on just the strength of his surge, Wigginton is leading the Orioles in home runs (14) and RBIs (45). And while Wigginton recedes into the scenery, Adam Jones is just heating up. Baltimore's center fielder -- an All-Star in 2009 -- has hit safely in 26 of his past 32 games, and his eight home runs in June tied him for second in the league.
Rangers: Davis returns to first base
The Lee deal may bring clarity to the pitching staff, but it also ends the Rangers' shuffle between prospects at first base. By dealing Smoak as part of the Lee deal, Texas has essentially opened up first base for former incumbent Chris Davis. Davis batted .188 in his first 15 games with Texas this season, but he was hitting .354 through 67 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Now, the Rangers just want Davis to settle in and to play up to his considerable potential.
"We're not looking for Chris to come up in here and bop 18 or 19 home runs," said Washington. "We know the quality of defense that Chris Davis brings. We've helped ourselves with the pitching staff and I think we've upgraded our defense."
After Friday's game, the Orioles have had six of their past eight games decided by one run. Baltimore is 14-12 in one-run games this season. ... Josh Hamilton has hit in 29 straight home games, the second-longest streak in Texas history. Only one ex-Ranger -- Al Oliver -- has hit in 30 straight home games. Hamilton's streak is the longest in the Majors since Nomar Garciaparra went 31 straight in 2006.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.