OAKLAND -- There were at least a dozen Major League scouts at McAfee Coliseum on Monday night, and they weren't there scouting the Rangers and the Oakland Athletics as potential postseason opponents. A few were there as part of routine coverage. Others represent some of the many teams looking for pitching before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Some are from the same teams that have been sitting on Akinori Otsuka and Eric Gagne for weeks. They missed Otsuka, who is still sidelined, and they did get to see Gagne, who recorded his 14th save of the season.
But they also got to see Jamey Wright, and the well-traveled veteran gave them at least something to send back to the home office as he pitched the Rangers to a 4-1 victory over the Athletics. A pair of two-run doubles by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Marlon Byrd gave the Rangers the runs they needed and Michael Young had a first-inning double, his first extra-base hit since June 15. Wright, despite pitching after an 11-day layoff, pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed four hits and three walks. He struck out just two, but got the Athletics to hit into two double plays and held them to 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. "I felt strong, that's for sure," Wright said. "I felt better than I did before the All-Star break. I just don't get 11 days before my next start." He has two starts left before the trade deadline. The Rangers haven't been getting much interest in Wright from other teams while he has been working his way back from the shoulder problems that sidelined him for 2 1/2 months. But he is now 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA since coming off the disabled list and his performance on Monday was worth scouting. "He pounded the strike zone," manager Ron Washington said. "He had his good sinker working and a good curveball. He gave us seven good innings. He got in trouble, but he got the ground balls to get out of it. That's what you want." That's what plenty of clubs want. And while Wright was sending the Athletics to their eighth straight loss, the Rangers also announced late Monday night that they were promoting pitcher Edison Volquez from Double-A Frisco to Triple-A Oklahoma. Normally, such a promotion causes few ripples in the universe. But this is July and these are the Rangers. Any otherwise harmless transaction can be viewed with increasing suspicion by the average conspiracy theorist at this time of the year with July 31 approaching. "Just the right time," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "[Farm director] Scott Servais felt he was ready." Good enough. But there's more. "It also lines him up to get a decent number of starts there before he's ready for the Major Leagues at some point later this year," Daniels said. Which brings one back to those conspiracy theories as to exactly what spot will be open when Volquez comes up later this year. Certainly, the possibility is increasing that Vicente Padilla isn't coming back anytime soon as he continues to feel inflammation in his right elbow, and there is also a possibility that the Rangers may get totally fed up with Robinson Tejeda. He has a 9.15 ERA in his last nine starts and the Rangers want to see that get turned around quickly. Or they may think at some point they could find a taker for Wright in a summer in which clubs are looking high and wide for any pitching that could be available. Remember, the Rangers took a flier on Kip Wells at the deadline last year. "I feel great," Wright said. "I feel like I'm throwing the ball well. A lot of it is confidence. I've thrown the ball well in the past and it's a matter of believing I can do it again and again and remember that every single time. I know I have the stuff to do it every single time. I just need to stay focused and stay positive." He needs to keep pitching and let the scouts keep watching.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.