Notes: Rangers won't have fire sale

Notes: Rangers won't have fire sale

ANAHEIM -- Rangers owner Tom Hicks made it clear Thursday.

The Rangers are not getting ready to have a fire sale as they approach the July 31 trade deadline.

"That's a figment of the imagination among certain members of the media," Hicks said as the Rangers get ready to open the second half of the season against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night.

"There will be no fire sale," Hicks said. "If we have a chance to improve our club for 2008 and 2009, we will do it. But if we don't like what's out there, we won't do it. The good thing about losing free agents is you can still get draft picks as compensation."

The Rangers enter the second half in last place in the American League West, 15 games behind the Angels. They are also getting heavy interest from other clubs in relievers Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka.

But they have also won 15 of their last 23 games, and Hicks is feeling much better about his team as it enters the second half. There is a strong sentiment to ride out this hot streak and see where it takes them. "Clearly we have 2 1/2 weeks before the deadline," Hicks said. "If we can stay on this same path, I'd like to see where it takes us. In the middle of May we were all very discouraged. I was so frustrated when we lost those three games to Tampa Bay and then I talked to Ron Washington and he told me he thought they had turned it around. "I didn't believe him, but it turns out he was right."

Yes, Hicks did see what Mark Teixeira said Thursday about his desire to play for a winner, that the Rangers still had a lot of work to do and the window was closing.

"I was very disappointed with his statements, but I'm not going to talk about it publicly," Hicks said.

Instead, Hicks prefers to focus on the good things that have happened to the Rangers lately in the hopes that they will continue.

"The first half was a roller-coaster," Hicks said. "We had a great first half and we all expected to come out of the game strong. For a lot of reasons, it didn't happen. Guys were pressing and it took a long time for the manager and the players to get to know each other and get on the same page.

"But you've got to like what's happened lately. The starting pitching has made a big difference and Ron Washington has proven to be an excellent manager. When we get pitching, we are a very good club. I like the way we've been playing."

Otsuka still aching: Otsuka apparently is still not 100 percent in his right elbow.

Otsuka, who was sidelined for the last seven games of the first half because of discomfort in the elbow, played catch during a workout at Angel Stadium on Thursday for about 10 minutes, and he said he was feeling better.

The Rangers aren't expecting to have to put him on the disabled list.

"My expectation is he's going to be a pitcher for us this week," general manager Jon Daniels said.

Diaz going down: The Rangers are planning to option outfielder Victor Diaz to Triple-A Oklahoma to make room for first baseman Mark Teixeira, who is coming off the disabled list after missing over a month with a strained quadriceps muscle.

Teixeira played a full game at first base for Double-A Frisco on Wednesday night on medical rehabilitation assignment and said he was happy with the results. He worked out with the rest of the team Thursday at Angel Stadium.

"I'm 100 percent," Teixeira said. "I feel great. I'm ready to start playing."

Diaz hit .259 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 37 games and 104 at-bats during his time with the Rangers.

Wilkerson off first: Washington will have to work to find playing time for Brad Wilkerson now that Teixeira is ready to return to first base.

Washington has a plan:

• Washington will start Frank Catalanotto in left field against right-handers and Wilkerson against left-handed pitchers.

• Wilkerson will still see some time at first base. Washington said he plans to use Teixeira at designated hitter at least twice during this six-game road trip.

• Wilkerson could see time in center field when Washington wants to give Kenny Lofton a day off against left-handers and he could give Marlon Byrd a day off when there's a tough right-hander on the mound.

"A lot of it depends on how I feel when I make out the lineup," Washington said. "I want to get everybody as much playing time as I can and keep everybody sharp."

Beavan signs with Navarro: Irving High School pitcher Blake Beavan, the Rangers first pick in the First-Year Player Draft, has signed a letter of intent to pitch for Navarro Junior College. Beavan had previously committed to the University of Oklahoma.

The Rangers still expect to sign Beavan before the Aug. 15 deadline. But by changing his college choice from Oklahoma to Navarro, Beavan can re-enter the Draft next June. If he had gone to Oklahoma, Beavan would have had to wait until after his junior year.

"Everybody likes to have options," Daniels said. "I'm disappointed this has gone this far into the summer. But based on all our conversations, we still expect to sign him at some point."

Beavan is represented by Randy and Alan Hendricks, who also represent Roger Clemens. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement guidelines, all picks must be sidelined by Aug. 15.

The Rangers are close to signing University of Alabama pitcher Tommy Hunter, the 54th overall pick in the Draft.

Briefly: Ian Kinsler hit off a tee for the first time on Thursday since going on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot. He said he still feels the foot "grab" him and there's no timetable for his return. ... Hank Blalock is still hoping to return from shoulder surgery by Aug. 1. He is with the team, taking batting practice and on a throwing program. ... The entire squad was at Thursday's workout with the exception of shortstop Michael Young, who was attending to a family matter.

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