Seeking spark, Rangers make moves

Seeking spark, Rangers make moves

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' attempt to infuse some new blood into their struggling team picked up steam Tuesday, as Chris Shelton was brought in with a chance to win the first-base job, rookie Brandon Boggs was promoted to add outfield depth and perennial power prospect Jason Botts was designated for assignment.

Shelton, who spent the 2005-06 seasons as the Tigers' primary first baseman, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Oklahoma, where he was batting .354 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 14 games. The 27-year-old Shelton bats right-handed, but he will not immediately be forced to platoon with the struggling Ben Broussard (.173). Shelton was in the starting lineup Tuesday to face Royals right-hander Brett Tomko.

"Shelton is a big leaguer; he's been here before," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We'll see how it goes. But if he's still swinging the bat the way he was in Oklahoma, he'll play a lot."

Washington said Broussard would begin taking fly balls at the corner outfield spots, where he had some experience with Seattle and Cleveland, but he may be coming off the bench for the foreseeable future. The manager said Broussard will "still get some playing time at first base."

Adding Shelton required the Rangers to open spots on the 40- and 25-man rosters. Deemed expendable was Botts, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound designated hitter who again was unable to impress in limited playing time. Botts went 6-for-38 (.158) in 15 games, managing five extra-base hits (three doubles and two homers) while striking out 18 times.

In 93 games over the last four seasons, the switch-hitting Botts has batted just .230 (65-for-282) against Major League pitching with five homers, 21 extra-base hits and 108 strikeouts -- a 38.29 percent strikeout rate.

"This was something I expected at the end of Spring Training, but I got to hang around and was enjoying myself up here," said Botts. "I understand how the game works. Nothing has ever been easy for me. But, hopefully, I'll go to another organization and see what happens. I've had plenty of opportunities here, and they just haven't worked out."

The Rangers have 10 days to trade or release Botts, 27, or he could be outrighted to the Minor Leagues if he clears waivers. A 46th-round pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Botts had made the Rangers' Opening Day roster for the first time this season.

Getting his first chance to impress is Boggs, a 25-year-old outfielder who was the Rangers' fourth-round pick in the 2004 Draft.

Playing above the Double-A level for the first time, Boggs was batting .309 with 12 runs in 18 games for Triple-A Oklahoma. Last year, he had a combined 30 doubles, 23 homers and 72 RBIs in 130 games for Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco.

"I'm very excited," Boggs said. "I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I'm glad to be here, and I hope I do well when I get in there."

Washington said Boggs has the versatility to play all three outfield spots and adds speed to the Rangers' bench. That, apparently, is why he got the call over Oklahoma outfielders with Major League experience, such as Nelson Cruz (.366, eight HR, 25 RBI, 24 runs and nine steals in 21 games) and Kevin Mench (.227, two HR, 13 RBI in 19 games).

Boggs takes the place of third baseman Hank Blalock, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and is expected to miss two to four weeks because of a small tear in his left hamstring. Blalock injured his leg running the bases in Friday's 10-inning victory over Minnesota, and he will watch Ramon Vazquez and German Duran play third base in his stead.

"I just have to wait until it's healed and be back out there as soon as I can," said Blalock, who was batting .299 with three homers and seven RBIs in 22 games. "It's frustrating. Last year, after missing so much time, I wanted to play 150 or 160 games this season.

"Sometimes life throws you a little wrench. And you can either pout about it or stay positive and try to get back as soon as you can. That's what I'm going to do."

Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.