ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Vicente Padilla will play in winter ball this season for his native Chinandega, Nicaragua team. This is only the second season in which a winter league has been held in Nicaragua. "Padilla takes great national pride in playing for his local team," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "Since he missed time this year, we are happy that he will be getting some additional innings." Padilla, who is currently serving a seven-game suspension, missed nearly two months with right triceps irritation and has been an inconsistent pitcher when he has played.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he hasn't discussed with Padilla how often the Rangers want him to pitch. However, it is unusual for players with a contract as large as Padilla's to play winter ball because of injury potential. The Rangers learned their lesson in 1997 when former Ranger Juan Gonzalez, who played for his native Puerto Rican team, tore his left thumb ligament and missed all of Spring Training and the first six weeks of the '97 season. The Rangers also asked former catcher Ivan Rodriguez to refrain from playing for his native Puerto Rican team. But, given the way Padilla's season has gone, the Rangers like the idea of Padilla playing this winter. "We're certainly going to keep the clamps on him this winter," manager Ron Washington said. "I don't think he can come back and have another tough year. The guy can pitch. He might [make you angry], but he can pitch." It will also be a critical winter for outfielder Nelson Cruz (Gigantes, Dominican Republic), right-hander Robinson Tejeda (Aguilas, D.R.) and infielder Joaquin Arias (Estellas, D.R.), as they all need to prove themselves as big league-caliber players. Current Ranger pitchers Edinson Volquez (Azucereros, D.R.) and Scott Feldman (Obregon, Mexico) will continue pitching over the winter. Other Rangers' heading for winter ball include: RHP Omar Beltre (Azucereros, D.R.), RHP Joaquin Benoit (Aguilas, D.R.), RHP Frank Francisco (Licey, D.R.), LHP Bill White (La Romana, D.R.), OF Jason Botts (Obregon, Mexico), OF Marlon Byrd (Mazatlan, Mexico) and OF Freddy Guzman (Escogido, D.R.). No progress on McCarthy: Brandon McCarthy wants to start the final game of the season on Sunday at Seattle, but doesn't know if he will, due to inflammation in his right forearm/elbow area. "In the grand scheme of things, it's not that important," McCarthy said. "I'd like to get back out there and play if I can. Get that peace of mind that I'm healthy heading into the offseason." If McCarthy does not make the start, it could be Padilla. The other candidates are Armando Galarraga and Jamey Wright. Sosa's Rangers finale? Sammy Sosa will be in the starting lineup for the final home game on Wednesday. Whether or not it's his last as a Ranger is undecided. "It's been great," Sosa said. "This team has been great, I definitely want to come back." Since the start of August, though, Sosa has played in a limited role as designated hitter, facing left-handers only. If the Rangers decide to bring Sosa back for a second season, Washington said he'd use Sosa the same way -- primarily against left-handed pitchers. "He's been very productive, very professional and very effective," Washington said. "I can't say enough about Sammy Sosa." Feldman replaces Rupe: The Rangers announced that Feldman will replace right-hander Josh Rupe in the Arizona Fall League. Feldman has been working on a new delivery, but has battled knee problems that have limited his innings of late. Rupe, who had elbow surgery this season, is still not fully recovered. "It's definitely good," Feldman said. "Hopefully, I'll get to the point where my new delivery is not a new delivery and it's just second nature to me." He said it: "I want to play in the winter because I want to keep my rhythm. I don't want to rest and just throw bullpens, I want to go down there and keep my rhythm. It's very important to pitch down there and work on my breaking pitches." -- Volquez on going to the winter league Up next: The Rangers host the Angels in the series finale in the last home game of the season on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. CT at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Right-hander Luis Mendoza pitches for the Rangers against left-hander Joe Saunders.
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.