ARLINGTON, Texas -- Roy Oswalt is headed back to the bullpen.
Thursday's 10-6 win again featured a somewhat awkward exchange when Washington came to the mound to replace Oswalt in the sixth inning. The Rangers led 4-2, but Oswalt gave up two singles to start the inning and then a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third. Pitching coach Greg Maddux visited Oswalt after the second single and Washington made up his mind to go to the bullpen after the sac bunt. Lefty Michael Kirkman couldn't hold the lead and the Twins tied the game at 4-4.
TV cameras caught Oswalt muttering on the mound and clearly unhappy, something of a theme since he was first assigned to the bullpen and exacerbated in his previous spot start at Toronto when Washington removed him from a 2-1 lead with two outs in the fifth inning, one out shy of qualifying for a decision. Texas held on to win by the same score, but Oswalt's sour body language seemed the bigger story.
On Friday, Washington said he has no issues with Oswalt being upset with being pulled in either game said the veteran has not been an issue in the clubhouse.
"You know, you got a guy who’s won 300 ballgames. He’s supposed to be all jittery and hunky dory because he’s going to the bullpen and get a chance to start every ...” Washington said, allowing his sentence to trail off after making his point. "It takes a while, but he really hasn’t been a problem in the clubhouse.
"You don’t expect him to be happy when you come to get him out of a ballgame because he’s a competitor. I don’t know how many guys that do agree with a manager when he comes to get them out of a ballgame because they all think they can get out of the situation they put themselves in."
After Thursday's game, Oswalt said he was upset at himself for allowing the the first two batters to get on base, and not at Washington for ending his night before the sixth inning was over.
Washington acknowledged that his quick hook against the Blue Jays could have been perceived as an awkward moment after Oswalt retired the first seven batters he faced and got out of a jam in the third allowing just the one run.
"That could have been awkward, it just depends on how you want to look at it," Washington said. "He only needed one out to qualify for a win. That might have been awkward, but I didn’t feel no stress. I did what I felt I had to do. I can’t feel no stress; I can’t. I’ve got to do what I feel is best for the team and you leave yourself open for scrutiny and as a manager you’re going to get scrutinized anyway, so I’m going to do what I want to do, then scrutinize me."
As for any animosity brewing between Oswalt and the manager, Washington said he wants Oswalt to express his true feelings.
"I’ve got no problem with the way he felt," Washington said. "You really can’t control how someone reacts to what they feel. And that’s what I like around here because I want them to feel what they feel because I’m going to feel what I feel. That’s why we get along around here."
Beanball war over? Josh Hamilton said he doesn't expect Thursday night's shenanigans to carry over to tonight's game. Hamilton was the target of retaliation for left-handed Twins pitcher Scott Diamond after Roy Oswalt clocked Joe Mauer in the back. Diamond's fastball whizzed high and just behind Hamilton's head. Diamond was thrown out of the game.
"I don't think he was trying to hit me in the head. I just think the ball got away from him," Hamilton said. "But it got away from him and it was close. That's probably the closest I've ever had a pitch come to me where I could feel it go behind the back of my neck."
Napoli progress: Mike Napoli caught Derek Holland's bullpen session Friday, and how he felt squatting will decide how quickly the Rangers send him out on a rehab assignment, Washington said. If Napoli checks out, the assignment could come as early as Monday. Napoli has been on the disabled list since Aug. 11 with a left quadriceps injury.
Uehara also close: The long-awaited return of reliever Koji Uehara could come as soon as Sunday. The right-hander is slated to pitch one inning tonight for Triple-A Round Rock. If he gets through it with no issues, Washington said, Uehara could be back in the bullpen Sunday for the finale of the series against the Twins.
500 and a bobblehead: On Thursday, Washington picked up career win No. 500 as a manager. On Saturday, fans at the Ballpark will receive a Ron Washington bobblehead, one which the manager said he has yet to see. Washington already ranks third in wins in franchise history and is closing in on Johnny Oates (506). Bobby Valentine is the all-time leader with 581 wins, which Washington will likely surpass next season.
Since Washington's tenure began in 2007, only Charlie Manuel (531), Mike Scioscia (522) and Joe Maddon (504) have more wins in all of baseball.
"I just want 501 now," Washington said. "I think when I'm no longer managing I'll look back at the victories that is put by my name that my players won for me and that my coaches won for me. Right now, it's nice. As a group, we got there quick."
* Washington said shortstop sensation Jurickson Profar was not considered for call-up to replace Michael Young while he's on paternity leave. Triple-A second baseman Luis Hernandez will assume the roster spot. Washington said the club will determine upon Young's return if Hernandez remains as an extra infielder.
* With Napoli still on the DL and Young out for a few days, first baseman Mitch Moreland could be in Saturday's lineup despite the Twins pitching lefty Brian Duensing. Washington said he's undecided because Duensing is a tough southpaw.