Notes: Gabbard joins Rangers rotation

Notes: Gabbard joins Rangers rotation

CLEVELAND -- Kason Gabbard is in the Rangers rotation and Jamey Wright is being moved to the bullpen.

Gabbard, who was one of three players acquired from the Red Sox in the Eric Gagne trade, will make his first start for the Rangers on Thursday afternoon against the Indians. He was 4-0 with a 3.73 ERA in seven starts for Boston.

"I'm just going out and try to pitch my game," Gabbard said. "Throw strikes and give my team an opportunity to win the game. That's all I can do."

Wright, 32, can be a free agent at the end of the season and does not figure into Texas' 2008 rotation plans. But the Rangers felt he could help them as a long man in the bullpen rather than just letting him go. Like Sammy Sosa, they were unable to trade him before Tuesday's deadline.

"He's a veteran guy who throws a lot of sinkers," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Wright. "We'll see if we can get him in a situation where he can get us a double play."

The Rangers did make one pitching move on Wednesday. Scott Feldman was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma and Wes Littleton was recalled. It's the fifth time Feldman has been demoted to the Minor Leagues this year and the fourth time Littleton has been brought up.

"We felt Wes maybe was more deserving of being here at this point," general manager Jon Daniels said.

Littleton is 0-1 with a 4.19 ERA in 11 games with the Rangers this year, while Feldman is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 25 games.

Metcalf sent down: Travis Metcalf was optioned to Oklahoma, leaving Ramon Vazquez as the Rangers' everyday third baseman. Metcalf, who was hitting .230 with one home run and six RBIs in 35 games and 100 at-bats, was sent down to make room for Jason Botts, who is going to be Texas' everyday designated hitter.

"I look at it as a different situation," Daniels said. "With Jason, it's time to see him. Travis has more time in front of him. He's being optioned to Triple-A, and he hasn't played at Triple-A yet."

Metcalf also is a victim of the Rangers' decision to keep Sosa as an extra outfielder, but they also are hoping Hank Blalock will return in the next three to four weeks. Blalock is still limited in his throwing.

Saltalamacchia at first base: Washington loves to teach infield defense technique, and he wasted no time with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was acquired Tuesday from the Braves.

Washington had Saltalamacchia out for early defensive work at first base 4 1/2 hours before the game with the Indians on Wednesday.

"It was fun," Saltalamacchia said. "I like the fact that he works hard, and it was cool to have him out there working with me. I don't feel as comfortable at first as I do behind the plate, but I'm still willing to bust my tail. That's why I was out there."

Saltalamacchia's primary position in the Minor Leagues was catcher, but the Rangers, like the Braves, will use him mostly at first base. Washington said Saltalamacchia will probably catch twice a week and play first base the rest of the time.

Saltalamacchia said he's fine with that.

"I'm here," Saltalamacchia said. "It's better to be here than in the Minors. If they want me at first base, that's cool. I love to catch, but I'll do what the team needs me to do, because I love the game."

They said it: "I'm excited about it. Playing in Texas, unfortunately we didn't have a lot of winning seasons. By the middle of the season, you were just kind of playing for pride. Here, I've got a chance to play for a World Series, which is everybody's dream. I can't ask for a better situation." -- Mark Teixeira, on being traded from the Rangers to the Braves

"It's pretty nice. It's about a 30-game turnaround, that's pretty cool. Texas was fun, great guys over there, but it was a disappointing season because the first five, six weeks was really rough. It's just good to be here and to know that every game means something. In Texas, it was going to be possible mathematically, but it would have been hard. It's a good feeling to be here in first place." -- Gagne, on being traded from the Rangers to the Red Sox

Tuesday's Minors stars:

Gold: Class A Clinton first baseman Mauro Gomez went 2-for-5 with two home runs in a 9-8 loss to Great Lakes.

Silver: Double-A Frisco pitcher Armando Galarraga allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in an 8-4 win over Midland. Galarraga, who struck out six, is 9-5 with a 3.90 ERA.

Bronze: Class A Spokane pitcher Fabio Castillo beat Yakima, 4-3, allowing two runs in six innings. He gave up seven hits while striking out six.

Briefly: Kevin Millwood was sent back to the hotel with flu-like symptoms, but the Rangers still feel he'll be ready to pitch on Friday against the Blue Jays. ... Desi Relaford, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma. ... Vicente Padilla, on the disabled list with triceps inflammation, will start on Thursday for Double-A Frisco at Midland, and he is expected to throw 60-65 pitches. He'll make one more start for Frisco on Tuesday, and that is expected to be the end of his rehabilitation assignment.

Up next: Gabbard will pitch for the Rangers against right-hander Jake Westbrook for the Indians at 11:05 a.m. CT on Thursday at Jacobs Field in the final game of the three-game series.

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