"He's not making it tough on me, he's making it good for him," manager Ron Washington said. "He's certainly taking advantage of the opportunity."
Byrd is here because Jerry Hairston and Brad Wilkerson are on the disabled list. They are also beginning a medical rehabilitation assignment at Oklahoma on Wednesday and could be back sometime on the next homestand. Byrd knows he has to make an immediate impression.
"Gosh, yes," Byrd said. "If I said no, I'd be lying. I needed to show I could help them right away or I could be the odd-man out. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I need to show them so they say, 'We need to keep this guy.'"
Defense is just as important as offense. The Rangers weren't happy with his defense in Spring Training, and that may have been the No. 1 reason why he did not make the team. The Rangers like what they have seen so far.
"Without a doubt," Washington said. "He's getting behind balls, and he's beating balls to the spot. He's not drifting after them. In Spring Training, he was drifting and not beating the ball to the spot. He is certainly playing better."
Cruz went into Wednesday's game with just one hit in his last 19 at-bats, dropping his average to .193. He may be back in jeopardy of earning a trip to Triple-A.
"I just don't see him making the adjustments as fast as he should be making them," Washington said. "He's jumping out at fastballs and not adjusting to offspeed stuff. But we still have a lot of hope for Cruz. We haven't made the decision that Cruz will be the guy."
Diaz has just two hits in his last 16 at-bats, and the competition for playing time and holding a roster spot is fierce, especially now that Catalanotto can play the outfield again.
"That's baseball, especially at the Major League level," Washington said.
Left-hander Ron Mahay, sidelined with a strained oblique muscle, is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday, but it doesn't look like that will happen. Mahay has made just two appearances on rehab assignment with Oklahoma, covering 2 1/3 innings.
The Rangers would like for Mahay to have at least one two-inning stint or more before he's ready to return. They also want to make sure his control is sharp. He walked 15 in 16 1/3 innings before going on the disabled list.
"That muscle may have had something to do with that," Washington said. "I've always known him as a guy who comes in and throws strikes."
Brandon McCarthy, who missed Wednesday's start because of blister on his right middle finger, was able to throw without pain on Tuesday with the finger heavily bandaged. The Rangers are hoping he'll be able to pitch on Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers, but they may have to push him back to Saturday, June 9 against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pitching coach Mark Connor said McCarthy would have to throw in the bullpen on Saturday without any problems before he could be considered an option for Tuesday.
"But I keep subscribing to the theory that I just don't want to be premature and have him go out and split this open again," Connor said. "We're not in an emergency situation as far as getting him back."
He said it:
"It's only human nature to be two away from 600 home runs and have it on your mind. He'll probably tell you it's not but it probably is." -- Washington on Sammy Sosa
Tuesday's Minor stars:
Top performances from Monday's Minor League games:
Class A Clinton right-hander Broc Coffman raised his record to 4-0 with a 3.33 ERA by beating Quad Cities, 2-1. He went six innings and allowed one run on five hits and a walk while striking out six.
Class A Bakersfield first baseman Freddie Thon was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs in a 16-9 victory over High Desert.
Oklahoma left-hander Mark Redman made his debut for the RedHawks and allowed one run on three hits and five strikeouts in six innings against Salt Lake.
The Rangers are close to signing John Maschino, a draft-and-follow right-handed pitcher from Seminole Junior College who was their 17th-round pick of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. ... As expected, the Rangers optioned pitcher Mike Wood back to Oklahoma to make room for John Koronka, who started Wednesday. ... The Rangers won on Tuesday night with just six hits. They are 2-15 this season when they have six or fewer hits. ... Rangers pitchers are tied for second in the American League with three shutouts. Seattle, going into Wednesday's games, had four.
The Rangers open a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners at 9:05 p.m. CT on Thursday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Vicente Padilla will open the series for the Rangers against right-hander Cha Seung Baek of the Mariners.