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Notes: Hairston happy to start

Notes: Hairston happy to start

BOSTON -- The way Jerry Hairston sees it, just to be in the lineup is something to be happy about.

While he has played most of his career at second base [468 starts entering 2006], he has become more comfortable playing in the outfield -- center field to be exact. So when his name appeared on the lineup card for Saturday afternoon's game, he wasn't about to complain.

"Now, beggars can't be choosers. I just like playing. I've gotten comfortable in the outfield now, and I just like playing," said Hairston.

It also marked Hairston's first start since coming over to Texas from the Cubs for Phil Nevin and cash on May 31, two days after Hairston turned 30.

Hairston was about to make his first start in center since last Sept. 15 before a nearly five-hour rain delay caused Rangers skipper Buck Showalter to move Hairston to right and Gary Matthews Jr. back to center from designated hitter.

Cubs skipper Dusty Baker was Hairston's manager in 2005 when he last started in center.

"Dusty was raving about how good a center fielder Hairston is," Showalter said.

The outfield is hardly foreign to Hairston, who had 59 career starts in center and 25 in right prior to Saturday.

"You're not going to be as sharp as you'd like to be, but that's still no excuse. They put you in the lineup, you've got to do the best job you can," Hairston said.

Before the postponement of the second game, Hairston's appearance in the lineup was designed to give Matthews a break, at least from the field. Matthews led off for Showalter but, if not for the rain, it would have been as the designated hitter for the first time this season and the fifth time in his career.

"I'm fine with it. Anytime you get a chance to rest, you take it. It's a really long year," said Matthews. "I think it really has a cumulative effect on you. Taking a break keeps you [strong] and helps sustain you through the season."

Kevin Mench went from left field to DH while Mark DeRosa moved from right field to left.

Travel tales: As frustrated as the Rangers might have been by all the rain that greeted them this weekend in Boston, Showalter said there will be a challenge when they return home Monday night for a nationally televised [6:05 p.m. CT] game against the White Sox on ESPN.

"I think our really tough day is going to be Monday," Showalter said. "It's 101 degrees back home today, twilight, six o'clock [CT start] after this road trip."

Making progress: Both Frank Francisco and Josh Rupe continue to make progress in their efforts to get back from right elbow injuries. Francisco recorded a pair of strikeouts in his latest appearance for Double-A Frisco Friday night.

"He threw well. He's throwing all his pitches, his split," Showalter said. "They're going to start closing the window between time off now."

Rupe was on scheduled to pitch on Saturday before pitching again on Wednesday.

"If you asked me to handicap who would be available first to pitch up here, it would be hard to handicap between [Francisco] and Rupe," added Showalter.

Coming up: Right-hander Kevin Millwood (7-3, 4.65) opposes righty Matt Clement (5-4, 6.68) in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. CT finale of the weekend series at Fenway Park. Millwood took the loss in Boston's 7-3 win on Opening Day at Ameriquest Field.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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