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Monday, April 23, 2007
Rangers place Gagne on 15-day DL

Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers put closer Eric Gagne on the 15-day disabled list Monday, a day after the oft-injured right-hander left the game in the middle of just his second save situation for his new team.

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Gagne, the 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner for Los Angeles, was appearing in consecutive games for the Rangers for the first time Sunday when he started favoring his right leg after his 11th pitch. He was diagnosed with a hip injury.

Gagne said he could have been back on the mound within a week, but he was placed on the DL because the Rangers bullpen needs to be at full strength.

"I think in four or five days, I'd be fine," Gagne said before Monday night's game against the Seattle Mariners. "But in the American League, you need a full bullpen, so we're not in a situation where we can do that."

After missing most of the past two seasons with elbow and back injuries, Gagne signed a one-year, $6 million deal loaded with bonus opportunities. He had one save in 3 1/3 scoreless innings after starting the season on the disabled list.

On Saturday, manager Ron Washington made a trip to the mound because he thought something was wrong with Gagne. But Gagne said he was fine and finished the game, a 7-0 victory over Oakland.

It was different Sunday. Gagne limped noticeably after his last pitch and stayed on the field only about a minute after Washington and the training staff came out. Akinori Otsuka, last year's Rangers closer, came on to record the final two outs for the save in a 4-3 win over the A's.

Washington said Monday that Otsuka would move back into the closer's role, with Joaquin Benoit taking over the eighth-inning slot.

"Health is the most important thing," Washington said. "It's tough because he's your closer, but you push on with the players you have and then have [Gagne] for the rest of the year."

Gagne tried to throw Monday but ended the session when he felt more pain in the hip area.

"Just walking around and sitting down, it's fine," Gagne said. "It just bothers me when I throw. I've never had anything like this before. This is more a precautionary thing."

Texas recalled right-hander Frank Francisco, who was out of the big leagues for two years with elbow problems before returning late last season. Francisco was a key member of a bullpen that helped keep Texas in contention until the final days in 2004, but he had elbow ligament replacement surgery in April 2005.

This season at Triple-A Oklahoma, Francisco didn't allow a hit or earned run in six innings, striking out 14 and walking three. He was 1-0 with two saves in five appearances.

Francisco, who could replace Benoit as the seventh-inning specialist, said his fastball has been clocked at 94 to 96 mph in the minors, and he has been able to pitch effectively on consecutive days.