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Week ahead: San Diego, rotation and more

6/18/2012

It should be an interesting week for the Texas Rangers as they face the San Diego Padres for three games -- the final three games in a National League park for the Rangers this season -- before returning home for 10 games, the first three next weekend against Colorado. Some things to keep an eye on this week:

* Pitchers get one final chance to hit. It's something AL pitchers don't get to do often, so if any of them have a shot to swing the bat in San Diego, be sure and watch. Not only will they be trying to possibly help themselves by producing runs, but they want to avoid injury. As we saw the last game in an NL park, injuries can happen as Alexi Ogando tried to beat out a bunt and strained his groin. So mission No. 1 for the Rangers' pitchers: stay healthy.

* Justin Grimm. Will the right-handed pitcher called up from Double-A on Saturday get another start? I think he deserves it. He pitched a quality start in his debut in front of a sellout crowd. With Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Ogando still out, why not insert him in the rotation for now and put Scott Feldman back in the bullpen?

* Roy Oswalt. He's clearly close now. He went six innings Sunday night in Round Rock and should join the rotation soon. The question is whether that would be this week or if he makes one more start in the minors. Still, to me, Grimm and Oswalt should have those spots in the rotation until the injured starters return.

* Josh Hamilton. He was ill and missed the Astros series but returned to the park Sunday and should be ready to go tonight in San Diego. He is hitting just .196 in June after earning AL player of the month honors in April and May. Can he get it going again this week?

* Big innings. The Rangers finally started to put some big innings together. That's a good sign for an offense that has struggled the past month or more. San Diego is a pitchers' park, so we'll see how that offense does out there.

* Sellouts. Texas keeps grinding out the sellouts, now 20 on the season. They are one shy of the club record set in 1994, the first year of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. That could fall next weekend -- June 22-24 -- when the Rockies comes to town.