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Notes: Rangers forced to make moves

Notes: Rangers forced to make moves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Third baseman Hank Blalock and infielder Jerry Hairston flew to Texas to have medical issues addressed, forcing the Rangers to call up infielder Ramon Vazquez for Thursday's game with the Devil Rays.

Blalock has some soreness in his right shoulder, the same one that was operated on at the end of last season. He is expected to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas on Friday and then rejoin the Rangers in Houston when they open a three-game series with the Astros.

"The best way to describe it is he has a knot in the back of his shoulder that's causing some discomfort," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He was examined here by the Devil Rays physician, Dr. (Koco) Eaton to see if it was muscular or circulatory. He ruled out circulatory. If Keith sees it's a muscular issue, he'll treat it and he'll be back on Friday."

The Rangers didn't even know Blalock was having shoulder issues until he mentioned it to trainer Jamie Reed after Wednesday's game.

"It's been bothering him for awhile but he hadn't told anybody," Washington said. "We try to tell these guys that if you've got some discomfort, tell somebody. But when you're a gamer, you try to stay out of the training room."

Blalock is not going on the disabled list. The Rangers are also holding off on Hairston, who suffered a pinched nerve in his right shoulder while diving for a ground ball in Wednesday's game.

Hairston was given a cortisone shot by Meister in Dallas and has not yet been placed on the disabled list. The best-case scenario is that he'll be ready to play on Monday against the Minnesota Twins.

"If he's only going to be a couple of days I don't want to put him on the DL," Daniels said. "If it's going to be longer, we'll consider the DL"

The Rangers at first were going to be stuck with a two-man bench. But they optioned pitcher A.J. Murray back to Triple-A Oklahoma and recalled Vazquez to give them an extra player.

The Rangers were reluctant to bring Vazquez for what might be a short stay because he is out of options and would have to clear waivers before he can be sent back to Triple-A. The Rangers have seen a spate of utility infielders get claimed, lately. But they didn't want to be caught with a short bench.

"That was a big part of it," Daniels said.

Eyre goes to bullpen: Concerned about the workload of their relievers, the Rangers put Willie Eyre in the bullpen for Thursday's game with the Devil Rays.

Eyre is still a candidate to pitch on Saturday against the Houston Astros but not if the Rangers need him in relief before then.

Right-hander Mike Wood is a candidate if the Rangers put Hairston on the disabled list. He was optioned to Oklahoma on Monday and can't be recalled for ten days unless there is an injury. The Rangers are also considering left-hander John Koronka, who is scheduled to pitch on Saturday for Triple A Oklahoma.

Heavyweight pitchers coming: The Rangers are scheduled to face two prominent pitchers on their upcoming homestand against the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox.

The Rangers are scheduled to face Twins ace Johan Santana on Tuesday and Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka on Friday. Santana is a two-time Cy Young Award winner who is 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA in his career against the Rangers. Matsuzaka is making his first career appearance against the Rangers.

Wright stuff: Pitcher Jamey Wright threw 30 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday and is ready to take the next step in his recovery from shoulder inflammation. That's likely to be at least one or two starts in extended Spring Training in Arizona.

The Rangers would like to get Wright up to 90 pitches before they consider him as an option for the rotation but Thursday was another good step.

"I had good stuff," Wright said. "It wasn't as good as my bullpen the other day. I still felt a little stiffness from that. But I felt good. I felt loose."

He said it: "We're not looking for changes. This team is looking to get rolling with the guys we have."
--First baseman Mark Teixeira

Wednesday's Minor Stars: Two of the four Minor League teams were off on Wednesday, one was postponed by rain and Bakersfield lost to Lancaster, 16-5. In other words, tune in tomorrow.

Briefly: Shortstop Joaquin Arias, who is still recovering from his Spring Training shoulder problems, was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Vazquez on the 40-man roster. ... Kenny Lofton was given a second straight day off with a left-hander pitching for the second straight game. Said Washington, "It's good for Kenny. It looked like he was dragging in Texas and it looked like he was dragging the first night here."... LHP Kasey Kiker, the Rangers first round draft pick from last year, is being assigned to Class A Clinton after beginning the season in extended spring training.

Up next: Right-hander Robinson Tejeda opens up the Rangers three-game series with the Houston Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT Friday at Minute Maid Field. Matt Albers pitches for the Astros.

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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