"He feels good," said pitching coach Mark Connor. "He had a little soreness after pitching [on a rehab assignment Sunday], but it was normal soreness. The finger is fine."Willie Eyre was another option. He came out of the bullpen to make the start on Tuesday and held the Tigers to three runs in 4 2/3 innings. He left the game after getting hit on the right hand by a line drive and is still recovering. "We felt we could get as many pitches out of Mac as we could Willie," Connor said. "This also gives us a chance to get Willie back in the bullpen where we need him, and get Brandon back where we need him." Eyre probably won't be available out of the bullpen until Saturday at the earliest and more likely on Sunday. Besides the hand, he also threw 69 pitches on Tuesday. "You don't want to rush him back," Connor said. "The fact that we got rained out [on Wednesday] helps, but we don't need to rush him back. We want to make sure his hand is fine." Everybody's All-American: USA Today came out with its High School All-American team on Thursday, and Irving High pitcher Blake Beavan, the Rangers' first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was second team. Rangers catcher Gerald Laird made sure to point out that he was first team All-American at LaQuinta (Calif.) High School. "I was all-everything," Laird said. "I hit .635 in my senior year. A lot of good players come out of California, right? I set the record for most hits in a career. I broke [Eric] Chavez's record." According to the Rangers media guide, Laird was the first California high school player with over 200 hits. He finished with 210, including 54 doubles, which was another state record. Clutch hitting: Marlon Byrd went into Thursday's game hitting .435 (10-for-23) with runners in scoring position and two outs. That's the third highest in the American League. Derek Jeter is hitting .516 in those situations. Sammy Sosa is hitting .375 and Michael Young is hitting .371. Dominican focus: Next on the Rangers' agenda is signing top Dominican Republic prospects. The Rangers have intensified their Latin American coverage the past few years, and Monday is the first day that prospects from the region can be signed. Among the players who have been signed recently are pitcher Fabio Castillo, catcher Cristian Santana and third baseman Johan Yan in 2005, and pitchers Wilmer Font and Geuris Grullon and third baseman Emmanuel Solis last year. Rangers officials said the overall talent in the Dominican Republic is down this year compared to other years. No Verlander, No Wakefield: Manager Ron Washington was planning to use Travis Metcalf on Thursday with right-hander Justin Verlander on the mound for the Tigers. But the Tigers pushed their rotation back due to Wednesday's rainout, and Kenny Rogers started on Thursday. The Red Sox are starting a right-hander on Friday but it's knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, so Metcalf won't be starting. "I don't want to mess up his swing with that knuckleballer," Washington said. "Verlander would at least give him some cheese." He said it: "If we bring him here, it will probably be in September. But he's going to have to perform. We're not bringing him up just because he is Eric Hurley." -- Washington, on the Rangers' top Minor League prospect Wednesday's Minor Stars:
Gold: Class A Bakersfield third baseman Chris Davis was 3-for-5 with two home runs and six RBIs in an 18-15 loss to Lancaster. Silver: Triple-A Oklahoma outfielder Jason Botts was 3-for-4 with two doubles in an 11-5 victory over Iowa. He has an 11-game hitting streak and leads the Pacific Coast League with 29 doubles. Bronze: Bakersfield right fielder Jon Weber was 4-for-6 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Briefly: First-round Draft pick Michael Main was 1-for-4 with three RBIs as a designated hitter in his first game for the Arizona Rookie Rangers on Wednesday. ... The Angels are scheduled to throw right-handers Ervin Santana, Jeff Weaver and Kelvim Escobar in their three-game series with the Rangers that starts on Tuesday in Arlington. ... The Orioles follow the Angels and are likely to throw right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, left-hander Erik Bedard and right-hander Daniel Cabrera. Up next: Right-hander Jamey Wright opens up a four-game series against the Red Sox at 6:05 p.m. CT on Friday at Fenway Park. Wakefield pitches for the Red Sox.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less