Texas Rangers: Mike Adams

Bullpen will certainly look different in 2013

December, 16, 2012
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Besides the Josh Hamilton news conference in Anaheim on Saturday, the other news involving a former Ranger belonged to Mike Adams.

The right-handed reliever agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal (pending a physical) with the Phillies that includes a vesting option for a third year. Adams can earn that third year if he appears in 120 or more games in the first two years or in at least 60 games in 2014.

Adams joins Scott Feldman (Chicago Cubs) and Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox) as bullpen members who have signed with other clubs this offseason. Others could follow.

The Rangers never expected to have Adams back, figuring he'd try to get a lengthy multi-year deal, which he did. The club has signed Joakim Soria this offseason, hoping he can be a part of the back end of the bullpen at some point a few months after the season starts. Josh Lindblom was picked up in the Michael Young trade (like Adams, he is a Phillie) and Tommy Hottovy and Cory Burns will get some looks this spring as well.

The bullpen will certainly take on a different look in 2013. One constant: Joe Nathan will close. But with Alexi Ogando moving to the rotation and other pitchers going to other teams, how the rest of that relief corps slots will be one of the interesting things to watch for the rest of this offseason and in spring training.

Winter Meetings shopping list: Bullpen

November, 26, 2012
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Editor's note: We continue our look at some of the needs the Texas Rangers hope to address at the winter meetings next week in Nashville.

Today's position: Relievers

It seems like an annual rite of winter for the Rangers: Go out and reassemble a bullpen. But that's by design. This front office has shown the past few years that they can find bargains, promote young pitchers (see Robbie Ross) or make key acquisitions at the deadline.

They'll be on the lookout for how to put together that relief corps again this offseason, and some of that could come into focus in Nashville. The good news for the Rangers: They've got their closer. By pouncing on the closer market early last offseason (even before the winter meetings), the Rangers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year deal and he showed he's healthy and productive after his surgery.

But questions remain about who bridges the gap between the starters and Nathan. Mike Adams is a free agent and is hoping for a multi-year offer on the open market. So he could get too expensive to retain. Alexi Ogando has moved to the rotation and Mark Lowe, Scott Feldman and Koji Uehara are also free agents. Ross is poised to return and currently is the only lefty in the pen. UPDATE (10 a.m.): Feldman has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The Rangers have already started to look at that part of the club. They acquired Tommy Hottovy from the Kansas City Royals and put him on the 40-man roster with the thought of seeing what he's got at spring training. They'll have other candidates, too, that could work their way into that mix (like Neal Cotts).

Uehara is likely to be a priority. He really showed what he can do near the end of the season. He was great against left-handed batters with that splitter and performed well after missing part of the season with a lat muscle strain. He'll have some suitors, but expect the Rangers to attempt to bring him back. Perhaps Texas looks at the Japanese market again and Kyuji Fujikawa. The club has scouted the 32-year-old righty. What about Jason Grilli? I'm intrigued after his solid 2012, but he may be too expensive.

The club could choose to look at someone with closing experience to use in a setup role (names like Jonathan Broxton or even Jose Valverde are out there). But this could be a type of hole the club fills last, after figuring out some other pieces. In the past, they've found a way to take care of their bullpen needs without breaking the bank. Since they don't have to pay a closer, that's an option again this offseason. So they might stay away from some bigger names that might want a chance to close again or seek multi-year deals in the hopes of assembling a bullpen without paying big bucks or keeping players to short-term deals. But we'll see.

Anyone in particular you'd like to see the club grab for the bullpen?

Mike Adams pleased with surgery

November, 8, 2012
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Reliever Mike Adams, now a free agent after spending the past 1 1/2 years with the Texas Rangers, said he already feels better following surgery to relieve Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Adams' season ended about 10 days sooner than expected after he experienced a stiff neck and then symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Adams elected to get the surgery done so that he was completely healthy for spring training.

"I wish I would have had it a long time ago," Adams said Thursday morning. "A week after the surgery, after all the aches and pains, it was over."

Adams isn't sure where he'll end up, but is curious to see what the market looks like as things come more into focus over the next few weeks and months.

Adams went on "Inside Pitch" on Siruis XM's MLB Network Radio earlier this week and talked about Josh Hamilton, saying he wasn't sure which Hamilton might show up at the park that day. Adams was talking about consistency.

"He might go 3-for-5 with a homer and a double one day and 0-for-5 with three strikeouts the next, but that's the way it is for most players," Adams said. "We all try to get more consistent."

Adams also made it clear that he'd like to have Hamilton on his team and added that when he said during the radio interview that he wasn't sure "if it's in the best interest of the Texas Rangers" to re-sign him, he meant he wasn't sure of the front office's intentions and whether they'd find a deal that was suitable for them to bring Hamilton back.

"I'd want Josh on my team," Adams said. "We've seen what he can do."

Adams will now wait and see what comes up in the free agent market. But in the mean time, he's slated to begin his throwing program the first week of December, as usual. Adams says he starts a bit earlier than most pitchers because he like to slowly ramp things up. It's a routine he's followed for years.

Mike Adams: Never sure which Josh Hamilton would show up

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Reliever Mike Adams said this week he wasn't sure which Josh Hamilton was going to show up at the ballpark each day and isn't sure whether re-signing the free agent outfielder is in the best interest of the Texas Rangers.

"Josh is a special talent and sometimes you have to let Josh figure it out himself," Adams told "Inside Pitch" on Sirius XM's MLB Network Radio this week when asked about Hamilton's personality and struggles at the end of the season. "He's a different guy sometimes. Every day you hope that Josh comes to the ballpark, shows up and plays like Josh Hamilton.

"Sometimes he shows up and you don't know which Josh is going to show up at the ballpark. It's nothing to be negative about toward Josh; that's just the way it is. That's what you get with Josh."

Adams was asked by hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden if he thought the Rangers would re-sign Hamilton.

"You want to see a guy like him succeed just with the past that he's gone through, but as far as if he'll be a Texas Ranger, I don't know," Adams said. "I don't know what's going to happen. I'm not sure if it's in the best interest of the Texas Rangers or not. That question is so hard. It's a difficult question to answer."

Read the full story here.

Reliever Mike Adams has surgery

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
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Texas Rangers RHP Mike Adams had successful surgery Thursday to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a numbing sensation that sidelined him the last week of the season, by Dr. Greg Pearl in Dallas, the team said. His first rib that was causing issues was removed.

Catcher Mike Napoli had successful lasik surgery.

Texas Ten: Should Alexi Ogando start?

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
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Editor's Note: We'll spend the next two weeks taking a look at 10 questions that face the Texas Rangers this offseason as they prepare for the 2013 campaign. We call it our "Texas Ten."

Today's question: Should Alexi Ogando start?

We talk a lot about how one move can cause others. And we saw that last year in regards to the club's starting rotation when Joe Nathan was signed to a two-year deal as closer. As soon as that move was made, Neftali Feliz was told to stretch out as a starter. Because the Rangers had a veteran closer, they wanted to see if Feliz could help them more in the rotation.

They face another decision in regards to one of their current bullpen pieces. Alexi Ogando, though, is a different case. At this point, there are some holes to fill in the bullpen and how those holes are filled may contribute to whether Ogando is a part of the bullpen or the rotation in 2013.

You can make a compelling argument for either in Ogando's case. Let's start with the reasons to consider starting him.

[+] EnlargeOgando
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireAlexi Ogando was 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his first 12 starts of the 2011 season.
Ogando, 29, pitched out of the bullpen this season and was 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 58 appearances. He did make one start and strained his right groin trying to beat out a bunt (he was perfect through three innings in that start in San Francisco). He went on the disabled list for a little more than a month, finishing with 66 innings pitched on the season with 66 strikeouts and 17 walks.

Overall, Ogando wasn't as effective as he was in parts of 2011. That was a breakout season for the converted outfielder. He was 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA and occupied a starting role at first and then became a critical weapon out of the bullpen (just like he was in the 2010 postseason). Ogando was an All-Star in 2011, thanks to his remarkable first half. He was 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his first 12 starts of the season and was 9-3 at the break, earning him the All-Star spot. Ogando wasn't even supposed to be in the rotation, if you'll remember. He was forced into that role when Tommy Hunter strained his groin a few days before spring training ended.

Ogando, though, appeared to hit a wall, thanks in large part to the number of innings he accrued. So he was moved to the bullpen down the stretch and into the postseason and was excellent. Knowing he wasn't likely pitching any more than two innings an outing, he let his fastball go and utilized his slider. Hitters weren't able to catch up and he gave up no runs in 2 2/3 innings in the ALDS win over Tampa Bay and one run in 7 2/3 innings in the ALCS victory over Detroit. But Ogando hit another wall in the World Series as the Cardinals got to him late in a few games.

Ogando was in the bullpen this year because that's where the club needed him the most. The Rangers made the decision to move Feliz to the rotation in November, when they signed Nathan. But with injury concerns and uncertainty with some of the bullpen spots, Ogando became an important, versatile piece in the bullpen.

The key to Ogando is his secondary stuff. When that slider is working, he's really tough to hit. And he threw his changeup more near the end of the 2012 season with some success. The ability to change speeds and give hitters different looks is particularly important if Ogando wants to start.

One big reason to move Ogando is that the rotation, outside of Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, is up in the air. The club will look at some free-agent options (I'm intrigued with Zack Greinke if he's interested and there's a deal that makes sense), but internal options will get consideration, too. Ogando has started before and had success in that role. I think he's got the stuff to do it and it's clear he wants to.

But if you move Ogando to the rotation, you must also take into account what it does to the bullpen. That area has holes, too. Four of the club's eight free agents are in the bullpen, including Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, two pitchers that had important roles late in games. How the club fills those spots could also determine what happens to Ogando.

I'd still like to see him in the rotation and perhaps, when Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis return, the team could then look at options and shift Ogando back to the bullpen if needed.

What would you do with Ogando? Do you keep him in the bullpen or move him to the rotation?

Texas Ten: Which bullpen pieces return?

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
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Editor's Note: We'll spend the next two weeks taking a look at 10 questions that face the Texas Rangers this offseason as they prepare for the 2013 campaign. We call it our "Texas Ten."

Today's question: Which bullpen pieces return and how does it shape up for 2013?

Overall, the Rangers have eight free agents. Four of them are in the bullpen. In recent years, we've seen the Rangers front office fill holes in the bullpen. They feel like that's an area where they can find some good value and put folks in their correct roles. That's not to say they won't spend money. They went out and, rather than wait to see how the market shaped up for relievers, jumped in and signed Joe Nathan to a two-year deal to be the closer. The club's scouts liked how Nathan finished the 2011 season, and by getting a deal done early the Rangers could tell Neftali Feliz to focus on stretching out as a starter.

[+] EnlargeKoji Uehara
Tim Heitman/US PresswireKoji Uehara finished the season strong and should be high on the Rangers' list of priorities this offseason.
But this year, some key pieces can test the free agent market. Koji Uehara, who returned to Texas in 2012 thanks to a vesting option, is now a free agent. It was a big up-and-down year for Uehara. The Rangers tried to trade him in the offseason and he vetoed the deal. He came to spring training focused, but the splitter wasn't moving well in the desert. He started the season well, but then ran into some trouble in early June. He went on the DL with a right lat muscle strain and then had a setback that kept him on the DL until Aug. 26.

When Uehara returned, he pitched like the guy that the Rangers sent Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to Baltimore for at the trade deadline in 2011. That splitter was very effective for Uehara, who kept right-handed and left-handed hitters down. He retired 25 straight batters at one point, the longest string of consecutive batters retired by a Rangers pitcher since Jeff Zimmerman retired 25 in a row in May 1999. Uehara went nine straight appearances without allowing a baserunner. That was 7 2/3 innings and he had 15 strikeouts in that span. So Uehara has to be near the top of the club's wish list. He's a guy that can pitch late and get key left-handed hitters out.

Mike Adams wasn't available the final 10 days of the season after having tightness in his trapezius and symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Adams will undergo surgery and should be ready to go by spring training. But he's also made it clear that he wants to test the market. He enjoyed his team in Texas but said this may be the only chance he has to try to get a solid, multi-year deal and he wants to do the best he can for his family. I don't ever blame players for that sentiment, so we'll see what Adams can get. Coming off the surgery and a slow finish to the year, it will be interesting to see what the market is for Adams.

Roy Oswalt and Scott Feldman, both starters at one point in 2012, finished the season in the bullpen. The club won't be spending money on an option for Feldman that is worth $9.25 million (he has a $600,000 buyout), but that doesn't mean they can't re-sign him. Oswalt came to Texas with the hopes of being a stalwart in the rotation once injuries caught up to the club. But he wasn't successful enough to last in that role. Still, he pushed through some soreness and gave the club some innings down the stretch. The team did not end up getting the full return on its investment.

Look for the Rangers front office to canvas the free agent market and see what's available on trades to bolster the pen. They've got a closer. Left-hander Robbie Ross slowed at the end of the year but overall had a solid rookie season. If Alexi Ogando doesn't start, he's back in the pen and can be a late-inning option. Michael Kirkman got a chance to pitch some down the stretch and could be a factor in spring training, as could Tanner Scheppers.

To me, keeping Uehara is the first priority. He really showed what he could do (and it helped that he got the time down to figure some things out). He's comfortable in Texas and became a huge part of the team after going through spring training and starting as a Ranger from the beginning. As for the rest of the bullpen, Jon Daniels and company will get together and figure out how to fill those holes.

2012 Rangers timeline: Final two months

October, 15, 2012
10/15/12
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Here's a look at the final month of the Rangers' season, one that didn't end as they hoped it would.

Aug. 1: The Rangers get a season-defining win over the Angels, coming back from an early six-run deficit to pull out an 11-10 victory in 10 innings. Elvis Andrus’ one-out, two run double is the difference and touches off a huge celebration on the field. Instead of being just two games ahead, the win puts Texas four games up on the Angels. … After the game, Texas announces it has purchased the contract of prospect Mike Olt.

[+] EnlargeRyan Dempster
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireRyan Dempster lasted only 4 2/3 innings and gave up eight runs on nine hits and three walks in his Rangers debut.
Aug. 2: In another sign that the offense -- stagnant for much of June and July -- is coming to life, the club pounds out a 15-9 win over the Angels. It was Ryan Dempster’s debut, and though he didn’t pitch well, he got plenty of run support. … Olt got his first start and singled on the second pitch he saw in the game.

Aug. 3: Josh Hamilton reveals that what has been bothering him was “discipline” in regards to quitting chewing tobacco. Part of his statement: “The issue is 'discipline'. Professionally, it's been plate discipline. Personally, it's been being obedient to the Lord in quitting chewing tobacco. I was hesitant to address the tobacco once again because it's an area that I've struggled with trying to quit in the past.”

Aug. 8: After winning a series in Kansas City, the Rangers drop the first game of a three-games series in Boston but come back to win the next two to win the series. … The club also puts catcher Yorvit Torrealba on waivers.

Aug. 11: The Rangers win a game started by Justin Verlander, with Olt providing the heroics in walk-off fashion in a 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. Olt’s two-strike single scored Nelson Cruz in the ninth. … Eric Nadel is inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame.

Aug. 12: Not long after a talk with manager Ron Washington while the club was in Boston, Yu Darvish has a solid performance to help the Rangers win the series against Detroit.

Aug. 15: Josh Hamilton hits two solo home runs in New York, but the Rangers fall 3-2 to the Yankees.

Aug. 16: A 10-6 victory ends a three-game losing streak and allows the Rangers to avoid a sweep in New York. Texas then went on to win the next six straight series.

Aug. 18: The Rangers win 2-1 in Toronto, but the game is remembered more for how upset Roy Oswalt looked in the dugout after he was taken out of the game one out away from qualifying for a win. With a runner at second in a one-run game, manager Ron Washington made the change to get what he felt was the better matchup. Texas got out of the inning and eventually got the win.

Aug. 22: Adrian Beltre hit three home runs against the Orioles in Texas’ 12-3 win. … Darvish is scratched from his next scheduled start with a tight quadriceps muscle. The injury only costs him one start.

Aug. 24: Matt Harrison takes a no-hitter into the seventh and ends up with eight shutout innings in an 8-0 Rangers win over Minnesota. … Beltre hit for the cycle just a few days after his three-homer game. He was named AL player of the week for his efforts.

Aug. 27: The Rangers jump on Rays ace David Price and win 6-5 to start a three-game set with Tampa Bay.

Aug. 28: Darvish struck out 10 Rays in seven innings as the Rangers won, 1-0. It was Darvish’s first start in 10 days after skipping a start because of a tight quad.

Sept. 2: Jurickson Profar, 19, homers in his first big league at-bat, becoming the second-youngest player to homer in his first at-bat in MLB history. He also doubled in his second at-bat. It was a memorable debut in the Rangers’ 8-3 win over the Indians.

Sept. 3: Darvish was perfect through 5 2/3 innings and ended up allowing three runs in seven innings in a win over the Royals.

Sept. 9: The Rangers fall 6-0 to the Rays and lose two out of three in Tampa. It’s the first series loss since Aug. 13-16 when Texas lost three of four in Yankee Stadium.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Beltre
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesAdrian Beltre hit three home runs and became just the second Ranger to hit two in one inning in a win over the Orioles.
Sept. 11: Closer Joe Nathan turns heads when he comes onto the field for batting practice wearing a full Tony Romo uniform. He lost a bet with teammate Mike Adams on the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game.

Sept. 13: Rangers reach 3 million in attendance for the first time in club history, hitting that mark in the 71st home date of the season. … Nathan blows his first save in five months as the Rangers fall 5-4 to the Indians.

Sept. 14: Darvish turns in a masterful performance at home against the Mariners, giving up one run on two hits with nine strikeouts in a 9-3 win.

Sept. 17: Colby Lewis signs a one-year deal that will allow him to rehab with the Rangers and attempt to come back from his season-ending surgery around the middle of 2013. Lewis has been an anchor for the rotation and could provide a boost next year.

Sept. 18: Hamilton exits the Rangers’ game in Anaheim with what is first termed sinus issues. He’s later diagnosed with ocular kerotitis and misses the remaining five games of the road trip. The Angels win the game, 11-3.

Sept. 20: Beltre, who talked himself into the lineup despite abdominal pain, hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to break a 1-1 tie and give the Rangers a series win in Anaheim. The victory keeps the Rangers four games up.

Sept. 22: Despite a great outing by Harrison, the Rangers lost 1-0, as the offense couldn’t do much. It was the club’s second consecutive loss to the Mariners in the series.

Sept. 24: The Rangers beat the A’s, 5-4, as Beltre hits the game-tying home run and gets the walk-off single to put Texas up five games in the AL West with nine to play.

Sept. 27: Texas salvages a split in its four-game series with the A’s by winning 9-7, which means they lead by four games with six to play in the AL West. The magic number dropped to three, as well.

Sept. 28: The Angels beat the Rangers and the A’s win the first of three games in Seattle, meaning the lead drops to three games in the AL West. Jered Weaver got the best of Dempster in Arlington.

Sept. 29: Rain postpones Saturday’s game with the Angels while the A’s make a big comeback against Seattle to close the AL West gap to 2 games.

Sept. 30: The Rangers split a doubleheader with the Angels, losing the first game by a run after Nathan blows his third save of the season, but winning the nightcap. Oakland sweeps the Mariners, but the Rangers’ win means the lead is two games and Texas needs just one win in Oakland to win the AL West for a third consecutive season. … Texas has a brief toast to celebrate clinching a playoff spot.

Oct. 1: Starter Martin Perez gave up four runs, and that was enough for the A’s, who mobbed the field after a 4-3 win that clinched at least a wild card spot. … Oakland had a wild celebration in the clubhouse after staying on the field for a while to take in the moment with fans.

Oct. 2: Oakland won its fifth straight while the Rangers lost their sixth in the last eight. The loss allowed the A’s to pull even. It’s was the first Texas didn’t have sole possession of the division lead since April 9.

Oct. 3: With the division on the line in Game No. 162, Dempster struggled and the Rangers blew a 5-1 lead. The lasting image of the game was Josh Hamilton’s error in shallow center field. Hamilton missed a routine fly ball that would have ended the fourth inning with a 5-5 score. Instead, the ball went off his glove and the A’s took a 7-5 advantage on their way to the AL West title. It was their second wild celebration in three days and sent the Rangers to the AL wild-card game.

Oct. 5: The Rangers’ offense, absent for much of the club’s collapse the last few weeks, couldn’t get anything done against the Baltimore Orioles in a 5-1 loss in the AL wild-card game. Despite a great performance by Darvish, the Rangers were not able to extend their season. So after having a five-game lead with nine to play, Texas did not even make the ALDS.

Mike Adams set for surgery; Lasik for two

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
6:40
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers say reliever Mike Adams will have surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a numbing sensation that sidelined him the last week of the season.

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Adams, who can become a free agent, is set for surgery Thursday in Dallas.

The team said All-Star starter Matt Harrison had successful Lasik surgery on Thursday. Catcher Mike Napoli, another pending free agent, is set to have the eye procedure next week.

You can read more here.

Mike Adams says he'll likely have surgery

October, 6, 2012
10/06/12
1:32
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mike Adams says that he'll meet with doctors about his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome issues later this week, but said he believes he'll probably have surgery.

"I'm thinking it's best I probably go ahead and get the procedure done and get it over as fast as possible," Adams said.

The reliever was bothered by a cervical (neck) strain and symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and didn't pitch in the final week of the season. He's a free agent and wants to be sure he's completely healthy for spring training and whatever team he's pitching for in 2013. Adams would like that to be in Texas, but he's going to get the best deal he can.

"If it's the right deal and the best deal," Adams said. "This is a business, man. That's No. 1. You have ties to places and you like certain places more than others. But when it comes down to it, this is a business. This is my first opportunity and might be my last opportunity at free agency. I'm going to take a look at everything that's out there and sit down with my wife and see what's best for us."

Adams said he doesn't care whether he closes or is a setup man, though he acknowledges that if he was a closer, he'd be in position to make more money. But as for his role, he said he'd do whatever he's asked.

"I enjoy what I do. I like what I do," Adams said. "I don't need to be a closer. If I'm compensated the way I feel I deserve to be, that's what's most important to me. If I'm back here, I'd love to be back here setting up again."

Adams had an inconsistent season, putting up a 3.27 ERA in 61 games, though he dealt with injuries, as well. But if Adams has surgery, he thinks it's about a three-month rehab and he'll be 100 percent by the spring.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 5, Rangers 1

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers' offense couldn't convert in the key situations -- a recent problem for this club -- and the Baltimore Orioles did, winning yet another close game (no one was better in close games than Baltimore this season) by a 5-1 score. Texas couldn't take advantage of a tremendous performance by Yu Darvish and the AL will have a new representative in the World Series.

What it means: The Rangers' season is over after a late-season collapse. A club that led the AL West by five games with nine to go (and four with six to go) dropped eight of its last 10 to lose the division to the A's and the AL wild-card game to the Orioles. They led the AL West for all but three days in 2012 and won't play in the ALDS. ... Baltimore will head home to host the New York Yankees for the first two games of the ALDS.

Offense disappears: As has been the case the final few weeks of the season, the Rangers offense didn't deliver in key situations. The fourth inning was a prime example. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners. But the Rangers couldn't get the runner home from third with less than two outs. Mike Napoli struck out and then Geovany Soto had a check-swing strike on a 3-2 pitch. ... Give Joe Saunders credit for wiggling out of trouble, but the reality is that Texas had multiple chances -- the Rangers put a batter on base in the first five innings and managed just one run, which scored on a double play.

Hamilton gets booed: Josh Hamilton, perhaps playing in a Rangers uniform for the final time, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, a double play and a roller to the mound. The final strikeout came with a runner at second and two outs in the eighth. Hamilton saw eight pitches -- all strikes -- in the four at-bats. It ended Hamilton's rough stretch the past few weeks and a terrible last few days for him. He dropped a routine fly ball in shallow center field Wednesday in the division-deciding game and then couldn't deliver on Friday.

Controversial decision: Manager Ron Washington decided to pull Darvish with two outs and a runner at second base in a 2-1 game in the seventh inning (Darvish was at 91 pitches). Washington elected to go with the lefty-lefty matchup with Nate McLouth coming up. He decided on Derek Holland, who threw 50 pitches Wednesday in Oakland and struggled. Holland threw a wild pitch to put Ryan Flaherty at third and then gave up a single to left to McLouth to give the Orioles a critical insurance run. ... Koji Uehara, who has held lefties to a .188 average this season and has been very good against them since coming back from the disabled list, didn't pitch until the eighth, where he struck out the side. That included left-handed hitters Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

Darvish dazzles: The 26-year-old was phenomenal, proving he could handle the big-game pressure. He gave up three runs (one was unearned and another scored when Holland gave up the two-out single) on five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. His slider was a tremendous out pitch as he got most of his strikeouts on the pitch, which just drops out of the zone on hitters. ... Darvish got nothing from his offense and hung in, putting up zeroes and at least giving the Rangers a chance to do something.

Double plays: The Rangers took themselves out of three innings with double plays Friday. And even the inning they scored was shortened because of a double play by Hamilton that scored the run, but allowed Saunders to keep it a one-run game. ... After Craig Gentry got on first because of an error by first baseman Mark Reynolds, Ian Kinsler hit into a double play to clear the bases. ... Kinsler got a one-out single in the fifth and Andrus hit into a double play.

Can I get an interpreter?: When Darvish started stretching his neck in the sixth, Soto went to the mound to check on him and looked to the dugout. That brought out assistant athletic trainer Kevin Harmon, Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux. Joe Furukawa, Darvish's interpreter, tried to come out and was initially sent back by the umpires. But he was allowed onto the field after the umpires conferred. MLB has a rule that allows interpreters to come to the field in case of injuries.

Very early (unearned) run: It took the Orioles just four pitches to get the lead. Michael Young tried to backhand a ground ball to first by McLouth and couldn't get a handle on it. Moments after the error, McLouth stole second easily. He scored when J.J. Hardy hit a ground-ball single up the middle that scored McLouth for the game's first run. ... Darvish then got out of the inning without allowing any further damage, striking out two batters along the way (Davis and Wieters) on sliders.

Rangers tie it quickly: Texas seemed to have an opportunity for a big first inning. Kinsler walked and Elvis Andrus singled on a hit-and-run to put runners at the corners with no outs. Hamilton hit into a double play, which scored the run. But it also kept the Rangers from having a better chance at scoring more runs. Still, the club managed to tie it right away thanks to the top two guys in the lineup.

Great catch: Kinsler had a nice defensive play in the second. Jim Thome smoked a ball on a line between first and second. Kinsler quickly jumped and snagged it to his left. It was a quick-reflex play that prevented a run.

Hanging in: Credit Saunders for his grit and manager Buck Showalter for his decision to start the veteran. Despite numbers that did not seem favorable at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Showalter went with Saunders anyway and it paid off. Saunders put a runner on in each of his first five innings, but allowed just the lone run in the first. He did a great job of getting out of trouble and getting the Rangers to chase pitches outside of the zone.

Two more: Baltimore turned a 3-1 game into a 5-1 game in the top of the ninth, getting two runs off Rangers closer Joe Nathan. The Orioles scored them with a big one-out single from Manny Machado and a sac fly from McLouth.

Buzz: Ron Washington says club needed day off

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
5:00
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington felt that his club needed a day off more than it needed a workout Thursday, so the Rangers were told to take it easy.

Washington said he didn't see anything unusual about his team as the players arrived at the ballpark today.

"They came in and started getting their work done," Washington said. "I haven't noticed any change in attitude negatively. They needed it. After the disappointment that they had, having a workout wasn't going to make that much of a difference. They needed some time off to relax and be with their families and come today, go through our normal routine and play a game."

Other notes:

* Mike Adams still hasn't thrown much. He hasn't had a long-toss session or thrown off a mound and is doubtful for the ALDS. Washington said the club can't really put him on there if he hasn't thrown off a mound and it seems unlikely he'll do that before Sunday.

* Washington said Tanner Scheppers was left off in favor of Yoshinori Tateyama because Tateyama gives right-handed hitters "a different look." With the flexibility of changing the roster after the ALDS, Washington went with 11 pitchers, including four lefties. He hopes to be prepared to make any changes needed to get a favorable matchup.

* Washington said he checked with Beltre when the slugger arrived at the park and Beltre told him he was ready to go, so he's in at third base today after being the DH in the series in Oakland.

* The Rangers' intention is to pitch Matt Harrison in Game 1 of the ALDS, but if they need him today, he can pitch. It's his normal day to throw, so he could give them an inning or two and it wouldn't leave him unable to pitch Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: A's 12, Rangers 5

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
5:53
PM CT


OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers couldn't hold a 5-2 lead Wednesday -- or a four-game lead with six games to play -- and watched as the Oakland A's won the AL West, snatching the division from them on the final day.

Josh Hamilton's error was the game's most memorable play as he trotted in to catch what appeared to be a routine, lazy fly ball but ended up overrunning it as it glanced off his glove. That broke a 5-5 tie and the A's were on their way from there.

Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse shortly):

What it means: The Rangers will play Friday in Arlington against the Orioles in the AL wild-card game at 7:37 p.m. CT.

Hamilton has big error: Hamilton inexplicably missed a shallow fly ball by Yoenis Cespedes that would have ended the fourth inning with the score still tied. He appeared to see the ball, coming in toward it. But it looked as if he overran it, and the ball glanced off the top of his glove. The error allowed two runs to score, breaking a 5-5 tie and putting the A's ahead by two. ... In between innings, television cameras caught manager Ron Washington having a lively conversation with Hamilton.

Dempster out early: The Rangers starter lasted just three innings, coming out of the game four batters into the fourth. Dempster gave up a leadoff walk -- usually costly -- and three straight hits as the A's closed the gap to 5-3. He didn't record an out and was taken out in favor of Derek Holland.

Fourth inning the difference: After Dempster struggled early in the inning, Holland couldn't get out of the jam. Coco Crisp hit a two-run double that was inches inside the right-field line to tie the score. Holland appeared ready to keep it tied, but Hamilton's error changed all of that.

Wasted chance in seventh: Beltre singled and Nelson Cruz doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs in the seventh against right-hander Ryan Cook, who was pitching in his fifth consecutive game. Cook got Michael Young to ground out and struck out David Murphy and Mike Napoli to end the threat. It was another disappointing offensive inning for the Rangers, who haven't consistently delivered the big hit.

Beltre ties it: With the Rangers down 1-0, Adrian Beltre hit an RBI single to score Ian Kinsler from third. It was particularly noteworthy in that Kinsler was at third with less than two outs, a situation that has been a problem for the Rangers in recent weeks.

Big inning: That third inning was a huge one for Texas. They got five runs, starting with that Beltre RBI. They did it by doing what the game asked. They just put balls in play, got some good fortune, and took advantage of Oakland's mistakes.

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Two-out production: After Beltre was thrown out on a fielder's choice in the top of the third, the Rangers had runners on the corners and two outs in a 1-1 game. But Michael Young doubled down the right-field line, hitting the chalk to stay fair. That gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. He got the double after falling behind 0-2 and fouling off a few pitches. Then, with runners at second and third, Murphy singled to right on a 3-2 pitch, giving Texas a 4-1 lead.

Taking advantage: Still in the top of the third, Mike Napoli hit a popup that should have been the final out. But it appeared that A's third baseman Josh Donaldson didn't see the ball, forcing catcher George Kottaras to try to make the play. The ball sailed a bit and he missed it, and it dropped in fair territory. That put runners at the corners for Geovany Soto, who got a single up the middle to score another run. That hit ended an 0-for-16 skid for him.

A's score first: Oakland got the first run of the game, scoring off Dempster in the first inning thanks to three straight hits with one out, including an RBI double by Brandon Moss. ... Dempster did a good job of keeping the A's to one run, though. He had runners at second and third with one out and managed to wiggle out of it, getting Josh Reddick to pop up in foul ground and striking out Josh Donaldson on a nice slider that dropped out of the zone.

Pouring it on: The A's scored four in the eighth inning, with all the runs charged to Alexi Ogando. The reliever just didn't have it and the A's were relentless. One of the runs was unearned when Kinsler couldn't get a full handle on a ground ball as he tried to shove it to second to start a double play.

Tidbits: The A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,067 for Wednesday's game. That included 1,000 standing-room only tickets. ... The A's came back from at least a four-run deficit six times in 2012, including Wednesday. ... The A's added a run in the eighth on a solo shot by Derek Norris.

Up next: The Rangers will play in Friday's AL wild-card game against the Orioles in Arlington at 7:37 p.m. CT on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Yu Darvish will get the start.

Buzz: Mike Adams hoping to start throwing

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
2:08
PM CT
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Texas Rangers reliever Mike Adams was in the clubhouse today, hoping that he could play catch and at least get his arm going again. Adams said he might be ready to throw off a mound on Friday, but that hasn't been determined. Either way, he remains doubtful for the first round of the playoffs (and he certainly wouldn't be on a wild card roster if the club plays Friday).

Adams, who is dealing with a cervical (neck) strain and symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, said he didn't know if he could be ready for the ALDS.

"I don't know exactly where I am physically," Adams said. "My neck feels a lot better. What's going on with the TOS is that every day is a different day. Hopefully, I can calm it down enough where I can go out there and throw."

Adams said the worst part of the injury is watching his teammates and not being able to contribute.

"That's the worst feeling in the world," Adams said.

Other notes:

* It was a pretty relaxed clubhouse on Wednesday morning. Players got some breakfast, chatted with each other and were laughing at some funny online videos. Ryan Dempster, today's starter, requested some music. It was not a group that appeared uptight.

* The A's are expecting a sellout crowd today and many of them are already here getting settled into their seats.

Rapid Reaction: A's 3, Rangers 1

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
12:00
AM CT


OAKLAND, Calif. -- The AL West is now officially up for grabs with one game left in the 2012 season. Oakland's 3-1 win over the Rangers pulled the A's into a tie with Texas with game No. 162 on tap for Wednesday afternoon. It's the first time since April 9 that the Rangers haven't had sole possession of first place in the AL West.

The Ranger bats have disappeared recently and the club has lost six of its last eight and eight of its last 12. That slump, combined with Oakland's five-game winning streak and victories in eight of their last 10, has pulled the A's even after the Rangers had a four-game lead after last Thursday's win over Oakland. Some quick thoughts on this game (more to come from the clubhouse):

What it means: The Rangers and A's will face each other Wednesday with the winner claiming the AL West crown and the loser playing in the AL wild-card game Friday. ... The loss also means that the Rangers need a combination of things to happen to claim the No. 1 seed. But to simplify it, if the Rangers win and the Yankees win or Baltimore loses, Texas will face the Tigers in the ALDS. If they lose, they'll face either the Orioles or the Yankees depending on what happens Wednesday. That game could be played in Arlington if Baltimore loses tomorrow. Stay tuned on the blog for more explaining all of this.

Double plays hurt: Once again, the Rangers couldn't produce enough runs to get a win. They managed just one -- on a Josh Hamilton double in the third. They had a few chances to create something, but double plays hurt. Elvis Andrus walked to lead off the sixth, but Hamilton hit into a double play to erase him. Michael Young's infield hit in the sixth didn't matter as Mike Napoli hit into a double play. In the fourth, Nelson Cruz got on thanks to an error and didn't get to second as Young hit into a twin-killing.

Early chance squandered: Adrian Beltre hit the first pitch he saw in the second for a double off the wall in left-center. But he never scored. Cruz grounded out and Beltre couldn't move over. Young got some good fortune when a high chop went off starter Travis Blackley's glove for an infield hit. But then they had some bad luck when Napoli's line drive -- and it was hit hard -- went right into the glove of third baseman Josh Donaldson, who reacted quickly. Geovany Soto then struck out looking on a great curveball.

Costly Cruz error: Cruz charged a single by Derek Norris with runners at second and third and no outs in the fifth, but bobbled the ball as he tried to get a handle on it to make a throw. That allowed Brandon Moss to score easily. With Cruz's arm, it's possible he might have had a play at the plate had he come up with it cleanly. And it's also possible that Moss scores anyway. But the bobble meant he had no chance to get him. That second run was the go-ahead run in the game.

Hamilton drives one in: With two outs and Ian Kinsler at first base, Hamilton was nowhere near two off-speed pitches and fell behind 0-2. But on a third breaking pitch (curve) that Blackley hung, Hamilton timed it right and hit it to the wall in right-center for a double. Kinsler kept running and when second baseman Adam Rosales dropped the relay throw, allowing Kinsler to score without a play at the plate. Had he not dropped it, it probably would have been close. But credit the Rangers for getting aggressive and forcing the A's to make a play, which they didn't.

Kinsler struggling: Coming into the game, Kinsler had one hit in his last 18 at-bats. And he didn't get a hit Tuesday. He is batting .199 (27-136) in his last 32 games. ... Kinsler is a different hitter on the road than at home -- with 70 points separating the two numbers coming in. He was hitting just .223 on the road before Tuesday and couldn't get a hit. ... Kinsler's last hit with a runner in scoring position was Aug. 31. He is 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position since Aug. 15.

Harrison's night: Matt Harrison came out with a quality start, but was unable to hold a 1-0 lead. He gave up three straight hits to start the fifth and two runs, which gave the A's the lead. ... With two outs and no one on (and after Harrison got Yoenis Cespedes on a pickoff/caught stealing), Jonny Gomes tagged a solo shot to give the A's an insurance run. ... Harrison finished with three runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts, but got the loss.

Blackley better: Blackley gave up five runs in the first inning in a loss to Texas last week and lasted just that lone inning. But on Tuesday, he was impressive, going six innings and giving up just the one run on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Tidbits: The Rangers' bullpen did what it could to keep it close. Alexi Ogando pitched a scoreless seventh, Michael Kirkman got both left-handed batters he faced in the eighth and Roy Oswalt struck out Cespedes to end the eighth. ... The A's announced 30,660 as the attendance with a 12,000 walkup.

Up next: RHP Ryan Dempster (12-8, 3.18 ERA in NL/AL) pitches for the Rangers against RHP A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA) of the A's at 2:37 p.m. CT in the final regular-season game of 2012.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182