ANAHEIM -- On Sept. 10, Akinori Otsuka recorded his 32nd save in a 4-2 victory against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Otsuka gave up a couple hits in the ninth inning, but the game ended when Jose Lopez hit a grounder back to the mound. Otsuka snagged it and threw to second to start a double play. On Wednesday, Otsuka told the real story of that day. A terrible migraine headache hit him the night before, and he couldn't sleep. He wasn't even sure he'd be able to pitch that day.
From the beginning of August to mid-September, Otsuka said he had been bothered by terrible migraine headaches, a problem that has been bothering him off and on for 10 years. "Now it's getting better," said Otsuka, who won't pitch again this season. "From August to about Sept. 20, they were very bad migraines. I took some medicine from [team physician David Hunter], but it didn't work. I took some Tylenol, everything I tried ..." He has not pitched since Sept. 19. But from Aug. 1-Sept 19, while Otsuka was battling his migraines, he pitched in 17 games and was 11-for-12 in save chances while posting a 1.15 ERA. He wasn't going to stop pitching because of the headaches. "We had a chance to make the playoffs," Otsuka said. "There was not much I could do about it. There was such a pain, but that's an excuse. Everybody has pain. I had to pitch. I can't say, 'I can't pitch because I have a headache.'" When the Rangers finally fell out of contention, they decided to shut down their closer. "My body needed the rest," Otsuka said. "It was a signal I couldn't take it any more. I needed to stop." He is not sure why he gets migraines, but the Texas weather may be a part of the problem, both with the April and May pollen that affects his allergies and the intense heat of August. Days where it was humid before rainstorms were bad. High humidity, high temperatures and extreme changes in barometric pressure can trigger migraines. "I didn't have these the last two years in San Diego," Otsuka said. "San Diego is different from Texas. But I think I can adjust." He will try a number of different therapies in the offseason. He mentioned acupuncture and massage therapy, and Hunter also ran further tests on Monday. "It's a real testament to him that he has pitched as well as he has," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. His statistics were terrific, but this is a serious problem. "I wanted to die when I got these headaches," Otsuka said. "Kill me. It was that bad. Now they are getting better. I hope next year during the season there are no worries." Rangers push hard on Matthews: The Rangers are making it clear that re-signing Gary Matthews Jr. is a top priority. General manager Jon Daniels has had extensive talks with Matthews' agent, Scott Leventhal, in the hopes of getting Matthews signed before the Rangers lose exclusive negotiating rights in mid-November and he goes out on the open market. "We talked in July and agreed to wait until after the season because Gary wanted to focus on this year," Daniels said. "We also had our own goals as a team. We haven't had substantial talks until recently, but I do think there's a desire on both sides to make it work. Gary is an important piece of this club, a guy we feel strongly about." Teixeira goes 30: First baseman Mark Teixeira hit his 31st and 32nd home runs on Wednesday night, this is the third straight year hit at least 30 homers. He is the fourth player in Rangers history to hit that level in at least three seasons. Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro each did it six times, and Alex Rodriguez did it three times. Dean Palmer did it twice. Teixeira now has 139 home runs in his first four seasons, which puts him for fourth all-time. Ralph Kiner hit 168 home runs in his first four years, Albert Pujols hit 160 and Eddie Matthews hit 153. Teixeira's 138th surpassed Joe DiMaggio. Golf tournament planned: The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association will hold the 16th Annual Swing with the Legends Golf Series on Oct. 19 at Woodhaven Country Club in Fort Worth. Four players will be teamed up with one celebrity for the tournament. Past participants include Teixeira, Showalter, Tom Grieve, Jim Sundberg and Michael Young. Registration begins at 10 a.m. CT with a shotgun start at noon. For more information or to register by the Sunday deadline, please contact the MLBPAA at 972-772-0085. Briefly: Reliever Rick Bauer probably won't pitch again in the final few games of the season. He has had some problems with tendinitis in his shoulder and Showalter said, "It doesn't make any sense to push him." ... Robinson Tejeda has a blister on his right middle finger and had it bandaged on Wednesday but still plans to make his final start on Sunday against the Mariners. ... Tejeda's 1.13 ERA for the month of September is the lowest in the Major Leagues. Coming up: Right-hander Vicente Padilla makes his final start of the season at 9:05 CT on Friday night against the Mariners at Safeco Field. Left-hander Ryan Feierabend pitches for Seattle.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.