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Notes: Washington to wear No. 42

Notes: Washington to wear No. 42

ARLINGTON -- Ron Washington started out with No. 38, but gave that away when the Rangers signed reliever Eric Gagne.

He took No. 37 instead, but will wear No. 42 on Sunday, April 15, when the Rangers play the Seattle Mariners. That's Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball.

"It means a lot to me," Washington said. "I only know what I've read about Jackie Robinson, but I know he opened up baseball for blacks and I read the comment where if he had one hiccup, if he did one thing wrong, it would affect every black in America. That's some serious pressure right there. I don't have any pressure compared to that."

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Robinson's No. 42 was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997, but Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. approached Major League Baseball about wearing it on April 15. That's the 60th anniversary of Robinson's first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers when he broke baseball's color line.

Commissioner Bud Selig liked Griffey's suggestion so much that he is allowing every team to allow at least one player to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels approached Washington with the idea.

"I love it," Washington said. "I think it's a great idea. I'm going to wear it with serious pride."

Washington and Willie Randolph of the New York Mets are the only two African-American managers in the Major Leagues.

No problems with K-Rod: The Rangers were amused more than anything about the accusations being leveled against Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez that he was cheating against them earlier this week. There were photos posted on the Internet that showed Rodriguez touching the bill of his cap and suggestions that he had an illegal substance underneath. Rodriguez said it was resin and the Rangers expressed no complaints.

"I couldn't care less," shortstop Michael Young said. "It's pretty silly. As long as he's not doctoring the ball. So what, he's using something to get a better grip? We use pine tar on our bats. As long as he doesn't have a half jar of Vaseline, I could care less."

The Rangers said they saw nothing suspicious in Anaheim.

"I never noticed him go to his hat," said outfielder Brad Wilkerson, who batted twice against Rodriguez. "Our guys usually do a pretty good job of paying attention to something like that. I would be surprised if they missed it."

Said Washington, "I didn't see anything different. His pitches weren't dipping differently or running differently. We had him in trouble. We were looking for just one hit. If we had gotten that hit, it wouldn't have mattered."

Sticker shock: Daisuke Matsuzaka was in the visiting clubhouse on Friday. The Rangers really expected him to be in their clubhouse when they submitted a $27 million bid when he was posted this winter. The Rangers were shocked when they heard the Boston Red Sox bid $51.1 million.

"Absolutely," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. "I couldn't believe it. We thought we were going to win at $27 million."

Signing Matsuzaka would have made a significant difference in the Rangers payroll. So would have signing Barry Zito, who turned down an offer that was potentially worth $99 million. Instead the Rangers open the season with a payroll of approximately $68 million that could rise to $75 million if Sammy Sosa and Eric Gagne reach all their incentives.

Only three teams in the American League have a payroll lower than the Ranges but Hicks said, "There wasn't a player out there who we didn't go after because of money. We went after the players we wanted. We just didn't get a couple of the players we wanted."

Thursday Minor Stars: The top three stars from Thursday's Minor League games:

Gold:
Outfielder Brandon Boggs hit a three-run home run in the ninth to give Bakersfield a 9-7 victory over Lancaster.

Silver:
First baseman Nate Gold was 2-for-3 with a double, home run and two RBIs in Oklahoma's win over Memphis.

Bronze:
Tim Gudex pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for a save in Clinton's victory over Quad Cities.

Briefly: Gagne rejoined the Rangers for Opening Day ceremonies on Friday. He still has three Minor League appearances to make before being activated but said, "Everything feels good. I'm free and easy, throwing more strikes, better angle, less effort ... it feels good." ... Jamey Wright only pitched four innings at Double-A Frisco on Thursday and allowed two runs on six hits. Said Wright, "I couldn't get loose. I was just trying to get through it. I was still sore from my bullpen session. We cut it short so I would be fresh for Tuesday."

He said it: "I demanded the Rangers win the American League pennant when I was sitting in the president's chair. What I should have done is get Charlize Theron's phone number." --Pitcher C.J. Wilson, on his visit to Air Force One on Thursday

Up next: Right-hander Kevin Millwood pitches for the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. CT against right-hander Julian Tavarez for the Red Sox. Millwood is 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA in nine starts against the Red Sox in his career.

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

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