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Notes: Blalock playing back into shape

Notes: Blalock playing back into shape

ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington wants Hank Blalock to play every day in the Rangers' lineup. Blalock started for the second consecutive game at designated hitter on Monday against Kansas City.

Blalock, who was on the disabled list for 3 1/2 months after shoulder surgery, is about a week to 10 days away from being able to play third base. He had elbow soreness during a throwing session in Anaheim, which has delayed his return.

"Because I changed my mechanics to take pressure off my shoulder, I put more pressure on my elbow," Blalock said. "When that calms down, hopefully I'll be at third."

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Washington said the team "is on Hank's schedule" as to when he feels comfortable to play defense.

Blalock made an impressive return to the lineup on Sunday, hitting a grand slam to lift the Rangers past the Angels.

"My first two at-bats [on Sunday], I felt really uncomfortable," Blalock said. "I was fortunate to see six or seven pitches every at-bat, and we'll see how it goes today and hopefully I can get back in the groove."

Quiroz joins team: The Rangers purchased the contract of Triple-A Oklahoma catcher Guillermo Quiroz on Monday.

Quiroz was told during the sixth inning in the second game of a doubleheader when Triple-A Oklahoma was playing at Albuquerque. He landed in Dallas at 10 a.m. CT and headed to the Ballpark.

"This is what you work for," Quiroz said. "It's my first time here in Texas, and you always have the chills. It feels very good."

Quiroz will be the Rangers' No. 3 catcher and play sparingly in the final month of the season. In 71 games (259 at-bats) at Oklahoma, Quiroz was hitting .266 with six home runs and 33 RBIs. He had brief stints in the big leagues with Toronto in 2004 and 2005 and Seattle last season.

Otsuka throwing: Reliever Akinori Otsuka, on the disabled list since July 19 with right forearm inflammation, wants to pitch before the season ends. He hopes to return for the final five games of the season.

Otsuka threw off flat ground "nice and easy" at 30 feet for five minutes on Monday.

"It's important [I come back this season], because I have to show I'm healthy," Otsuka said.

Best stretch: The Rangers have won seven of their last eight games with series against the Mariners, the White Sox and the Angels.

Washington said he felt the Rangers had a good stretch in May when the team was swept by the Devil Rays in Orlando, but the past eight games have been the best all season.

"I like to think those games from Orlando [are] why we are able to play like we are now," he said. "We started really doing fundamentals correctly. It's not always the best team that wins, it's the team that plays the best. We played the best."

They said it: "We're trying to win as many games. It's either playoff or bust to me. But, we have been playing better ball. We want to finish strong." -- Michael Young

"We can play spoiler, maybe, but it's important we play well. It's important that we take some momentum into next year." -- Kevin Millwood

Sunday's Minor League stars:
Gold: Outfielder Victor Diaz went 5-for-6 with three home runs and eight RBIs as Oklahoma walloped Albuquerque, 20-6, in the first game of a doubleheader.

Silver: Right-hander Scott Shoemaker gave up a run over 6 2/3 innings as Double-A Frisco defeated Midland, 6-2.

Bronze: Oklahoma outfielder Kevin West hit a two-run home run in the second game of the doubleheader to lead the Red Hawks past the Isotopes, 3-2.

Briefly: Reliever Willie Eyre had successful Tommy John elbow reconstruction a week ago. Eyre cleared out his locker on Monday and is heading home to Utah. He is expected to start playing catch the first week of January at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Ariz. ... Reliever Scott Feldman has not pitched in 14 days. Washington said there has not been a situation where the Rangers could use him.

Up next: Texas hosts Kansas City in the second game of a three-game series on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Kevin Millwood pitches for the Rangers against right-hander Billy Buckner of the Royals.

Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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