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Clubhouse notes: Cruz update, Arias 1B

5/11/2010

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said outfielder Nelson Cruz (hamstring strain) is scheduled to return to the lineup on Friday in Toronto barring any setbacks during his Triple-A rehab assignment.

Washington said the plan is to allow Cruz to play the outfield for full games Tuesday and Wednesday in Oklahoma City and then give him a day off on Thursday while the Rangers face the A's in an afternoon affair. Cruz would then be activated in time for Friday's game with the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Cruz was hitting .323 (20-for-62) with seven homers and 17 RBIs when he went on the disabled list late last month with a strained right hamstring. He said last week that the hamstring felt better and he was ready to play in some games.

When Cruz returns, it would be the first time this season that he and Ian Kinsler will be in the lineup at the same time.

Other notes:

* Rangers utility infielder Joaquin Arias (lower back strain) is rehabbing in Double-A Frisco and getting work in at the corner infield positions. He was 0-for-4 in Tuesday's game at first base.

Manager Ron Washington said Tuesday that the club wants to see how Arias does at those spots while they've got the chance. Could it signal that they'd like Arias to be a backup first baseman? Maybe. Arias is a right-handed hitter and if he can play first base well enough to give Justin Smoak a break here or there, it could be an option the Rangers consider. Ryan Garko, the club's current backup first baseman (and right-handed hitter) is batting just 2-for-27 (.074) to start the season.

Infield coach Dave Anderson worked with Arias some at first base while the team was in Oakland.

"The biggest thing at that position is taking a throw from a pitcher and knowing where you're supposed to be," Anderson said. "A ground ball is a ground ball, but you don't normally receive a hard throw from a pitcher. It takes some getting used to in terms of figuring out where you are and where you're supposed to be."

Arias has played just three games in Frisco, but he'll get more chances to learn the positions.

* The Rogers Centre in Toronto has been known for having rough turf. Washington has given players with some injury issues days off because of it. But the stadium installed new turf (it's called AstroTurf and is supposed to have the best elements of FieldTurf and the old AstroTurf) this season. Washington said he still may try to get Ian Kinsler (ankle) and Nelson Cruz (hamstring) a day off during that series. He expects Vladimir Guerrero to play only DH in Toronto.

* Washington is looking forward to seeing Derek Holland pitch on Wednesday. "I'd like to see his progress," Washington said. "He has confidence because he's pitched well."

* RHP Tommy Hunter (left oblique strain) threw 55 pitches his last time out. He would have to start at least two more times before he could even be considered healthy enough to return, but Washington indicated that even then the club would want to see that he could handle 100 pitches without a problem.