KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers, having traded Kenny Lofton to the Cleveland Indians, have signaled that it's time to start evaluating players for next year. That also may be a sign that Jamey Wright is close to exhausting his usefulness for the Rangers. The 32-year-old right-hander made his eighth start of the season on Friday night against the Kansas City Royals and immediately gave up a three-run home run to Billy Butler in the first inning. The Rangers never really recovered and their four-game winning streak came to an end with a 6-1 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Brian Bannister held the Rangers to four singles through seven innings, and they didn't score until Sammy Sosa hit his 604th career home run off of reliever Joakim Soria in the eighth. That was their only extra base hit and the Rangers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. "It was a lot better than my last outing," said Wright, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings against Cleveland on Saturday. "That's something I've been good about, not giving up runs early. But tonight I put up a three-run horror in the first inning and the other guy was pretty stingy." Wright, despite his rough start, lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on 10 hits and four walks, and is now 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA on the season. He is 3-2 with a 3.21 ERA in his last six starts. The negative is that he has walked 6.1 batters per nine innings. "He's given us innings," manager Ron Washington said. "He struggled a little bit with his command tonight but he made some pitches when he had to. At least he got us into the seventh." Wright's numbers might seem attractive to teams looking for pitching at the trade deadline, but the Rangers have received little interest in him to this point. This was also his last start before the deadline; his next outing is scheduled for Wednesday. The Rangers signed Wright in the offseason as a potential fifth starter who could at least give them innings. He did win the job in Spring Training but then missed two months because of shoulder inflammation. Wright has shown over the past six weeks that he can still pitch and help the Rangers win. They are still 5-3 when he pitches despite Friday's loss. But Vicente Padilla is due to return off the disabled list in a couple of weeks and the Rangers have pitchers lined up at Triple-A Oklahoma waiting for at least a September callup. Wright will be a free agent after the season and at some point, the Rangers will have to decide if he is blocking the path of somebody who is in need of being evaluated for next year. "You never know what will happen," Wright said. "I'm just going to go out and work hard and get ready for my next start. I felt great tonight and I think I've been throwing the ball well. I enjoy being here, I wish I could have helped more the first couple of months of the season. Whatever happens, I'll be ready to go, no matter whether it's here or somewhere else." Wright's problem in the first was he couldn't put away a couple of batters. After a one-out single by Mark Grudzielanek, Wright got ahead, 0-2, on Mark Teahen and ended up walking him. Wright also got ahead, 0-2, on Butler but, after missing with a pitch, left a slider over the plate. Butler jumped on it and hit it over the center-field wall for a three-run home run. The Royals added another run in the third when Teahen doubled, went to third Butler's grounder and scored on Ross Gload's sacrifice fly. Grudzielanek's run-scoring single made it 5-0 in the seventh. "A couple of ground ball singles ... one bad pitch ... overall I was happy with the way I pitched," Wright said. "I was happy the way I battled and worked deep in the game. One bad pitch killed me."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.