Notes: Rangers groundskeeper leaving

Notes: Rangers groundskeeper moving on

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are losing highly-regarded groundskeeper Tom Burns at the end of the month.

Burns, who has been in the Rangers' organization for 20 years, is leaving to work for Diamond Pro, a supplier of baseball field and groundskeeping products.

"It's time for a change," Burns said. "I've been in this business for 28 years, and it's time to do something different. This is a good opportunity for me. This keeps me involved in the industry, and this gives me a chance to help other people with their fields."

Burns, 47, has been in charge of Ameriquest Field since the end of the 1996 season. Prior to that he spent 10 years as the head groundskeeper at the Rangers Spring Training facility in Port Charlotte, Fla., and has won multiple awards for his work.

"Our field is outstanding because of him," Rangers infield coach Steve Smith said. "I played in the Texas League, where it's hot and they had trouble because the dirt was hard and they couldn't keep the grass green. Here the grass is always green, and the dirt is always soft. I don't know how he does it, but he does a great job.

"We're going to miss him."

Prior to joining the Rangers, Burns worked on the grounds crews of the Angels and the Indians.

"There are a lot of things I'm going to miss but I'm not going to miss the tarp," Burns said. "I'm getting burned out. I'm looking forward to doing something else and spending time with my family."

Jaramillo going on road trip: Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, still recovering from prostate cancer, is hoping to accompany the Rangers on the upcoming 10-game road trip to New York, Boston and Houston that begins May 12 but probably won't resume full duties until after the club gets home.

He is still waiting clearance from his doctor to return to work. He was at Ameriquest Field in Arlington on Wednesday, and he is still communicating with his hitters and is still helping out on a part-time basis.

Jaramillo is planning to be on the field before games on the next road trip but then watch the game on television in the clubhouse or back at the hotel. He doesn't want to rush back and is still content to entrust the job to interim hitting coach Brook Jacoby.

"Brook has brought this along nicely," Jaramillo said. "He has done a good job. That's why he's here."

Jaramillo is scheduled to be examined by Dr. Peter Scardino on May 15 in New York, and that's when he'll get a better idea of when he can return to work.

"You don't realize how much you miss it until you're away from it," Jaramillo said. "This is my life."

Jaramillo has been watching the games on television, which has good points and bad.

"It's boring watching on TV with the commercials and the pitching changes," Jaramillo said. "But you get to see the kids' faces, their facial expressions and their body language. Sometimes when you're with them every day you don't see the whole picture."

Alfonseca better: Reliever Antonio Alfonseca looked in mock horror when asked if he was going to be sidelined with a strained left ankle.

"Out?" Alfonseca said. "Oh, I don't think so. I'll be okay."

Alfonseca had to leave Tuesday's game against the Rays after twisting the ankle but said he was ready to pitch. Manager Buck Showalter was hoping to give him Wednesday off just from his workload rather than his ankle.

Alfonseca, Francisco Cordero and Akinori Otsuka have all pitched in 14 of the Rangers' first 27 games, which tied them for the American League lead in appearances with five other pitchers going into Wednesday's games.

Showalter said that wasn't a huge concern.

"Not with the way we've used them, one [warm] up, one in the game and one inning of work," Showalter said. "If you can stay away from getting them up multiple times, you're in pretty good shape."

Sundberg replaces Chiti: Former All-Star catcher Jim Sundberg, who works in the Rangers' front office, replaced Dom Chiti as the bullpen coach for Wednesday's game. Chiti was in Florida to attend his daughter Kira's college graduation.

Sundberg, who played in the second-most Rangers games in history, filled in as first-base coach a couple of years ago in Kansas City. But this was the first time he had been in a Major League uniform for a game in Arlington since he retired in 1989.

"I'm pumped," Sundberg said beforehand. "I'm here to lend support, leadership and emotional energy."

Briefly: Ian Kinsler, on the disabled list since April 12 with a dislocated left thumb, is showing some improvement and is hoping to take batting practice for the first time on Tuesday. ... Gary Matthews returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing a game with a sore left foot. ... Matt Riley, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last year, is still in Extended Spring Training and is having more pain in the elbow. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Thursday. The Rangers are hoping it's just scar tissue.

Coming up: Right-hander Kevin Millwood, still looking for his first victory at Ameriquest Field in Arlington for the Rangers, pitches against the Orioles at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday. Left-hander Bruce Chen pitches for the Orioles.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.