CLEVELAND -- Rangers first baseman Hank Blalock wasn't able to come off the disabled list to play the Indians, and he likely won't play the Rays, either. Blalock is still having trouble with carpal tunnel syndrome in his right wrist, and the Rangers remain unsure of when he'll be activated off the disabled list. Blalock was placed on the disabled list April 26 with a partially torn left hamstring, but it's the numbness and aching in his right wrist that's keeping him from being activated. Blalock first told the Rangers about the problem Friday and has been taking medication for it, but that has not alleviated the pain.
"He's still not any better," manager Ron Washington said. "I don't anticipate him being activated [against] Tampa Bay. He came in today, and there was not a whole lot of change. The medicine isn't working as quickly as we expected." Blalock's delay is likely giving Chris Shelton a reprieve, and he is taking advantage of it. Shelton is a leading candidate to be dropped when Blalock returns, but he is hitting .344 (11-for-32) in his last 13 games to raise his average of .056 to .240 with a .397 on-base percentage. He had three walks in each of his last two games entering Sunday, only the fifth time in club history that has happened. "He's a big leaguer and a professional," Washington said. "He's making a case for himself. He's getting hits, taking walks and making pitchers work." Shelton is not automatically gone when Blalock returns. The Rangers could drop infielder German Duran, who was hitting .182 entering Sunday, or they could drop outfielder Brandon Boggs, who came into Sunday's game with just six hits in his last 43 at-bats. Marlon Byrd is starting to regain his old role now that Boggs is starting to struggle. Shelton has some experience both at third base and the outfield, but it is extremely limited at best. Washington has prepared Shelton, who is out of Minor League options, for the possibility that he might be designated for assignment when Blalock returns. "I didn't want him to sit around and be shocked," Washington said. Shelton has been in this position before. He was the Tigers' regular first baseman for four months in 2006 and was hitting .277 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI on July 30. But the Tigers traded for Sean Casey right before the non-waiver trade deadline, and Shelton was unceremoniously optioned to Triple-A Toledo. "The last time, I had options," Shelton said. "This time, I don't know, there might be a different decision. I've learned to accept situations for what they are and deal with it. If they make a decision they feel is best for the ballclub, that's what they need to do." Shelton is unlikely to stay with the Rangers if he is outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma. He could refuse the assignment and become a free agent, a potentially wise move considering the Rangers just promoted first-base prospect Chris Davis to Oklahoma.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.