Gonzalez adjusts to situational role in Texas

Gonzalez adjusts to situational role in Texas

SEATTLE -- Rangers reliever Michael Gonzalez struck out Mike Carp to lead off the eighth inning on Saturday in a 7-6 victory over the Mariners. Then he had to give up the ball.

Rangers manager Ron Washington brought in right-hander Mike Adams to get the next two hitters. Both were right-handed. Gonzalez admitted it was tough to give up the ball when he's not used to doing that.

"You have a love-hate relationship going on inside yourself," Gonzalez said. "You don't want to give up the ball, but you understand the situation. You understand what you were brought in for and you understand who is coming in behind you. He has been aces all year. That gives you peace of mind.

"At the end of the day I'm just thankful to be getting outs for the Texas Rangers. Two weeks ago I was pitching for a last-place team and it didn't matter."

The Rangers acquired Gonzalez from the Orioles on Aug. 31 for reliever Pedro Strop. Texas is using him as a situational left-hander against opposing left-handed hitters. That's different from when he was in the National League and one of the top setup/closer relievers. In that role, he faced both left- and right-handed hitters.

"Don't get me wrong," Gonzalez said. "I love that adrenaline rush. You can't get it anywhere else like pitching the late innings of a ballgame. But I understand the situation. It's just nice to pitch, that's all you can ask for. I told 'Wash' to put me in there anywhere he wants."

Gonzalez is also pitching for a spot on the Rangers' postseason roster. The competition is fierce, but given the team's desire for a second left-handed reliever behind Darren Oliver, he has an advantage over others.

Right now, if the Rangers go with a seven-man bullpen in the playoffs, it will certainly include Neftali Feliz, Mark Lowe, Adams and Oliver. Because the Rangers will use only a four-man rotation, one of the starters will go to the bullpen, possibly Alexi Ogando.

That takes up five spots. Gonzalez would be the sixth guy. That would leave the Rangers trying to choose among right-handers Koji Uehara, Scott Feldman, Darren O'Day and Yoshinori Tateyama as the last guy in the bullpen.