Vizquel approaching important record

Vizquel approaching important record

ARLINGTON -- Rangers fans will have a chance to see a double-dose of baseball history on Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Not only is Ivan Rodriguez -- starting behind the plate for the Astros -- scheduled to catch for a Major League record 2,227th time, but Omar Vizquel is expected to start at shortstop for the Rangers.

That will give him another chance at a much-coveted record. Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, needs one hit to tie and two to pass Luis Aparicio for the most hits in Major League history by a native of Venezuela.

Aparicio, who has 2,677 hits, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.

"It means the most important thing I've done in my career," Vizquel said. "Nobody really talks about my offensive numbers, but to pass the only Venezuelan who is in the Hall of Fame would put me in a very special category. All the sacrifice and everything ... I started switch-hitting one year before I got to the big leagues.

"People said I wouldn't last because of my bat, but I was able to maintain and improve at the big league level. It's not easy switch-hitting at age 20 when you're approaching an important level. [You either] get released, stay in the Minors or you can establish yourself in the big leagues."

Vizquel is hoping to break the record in Arlington because the Rangers gave him a chance to extend his career and accomplish this feat. If he doesn't do it in Arlington, he could do it this weekend in San Francisco, where he played with the Giants for the previous four years. He wouldn't mind that either.

Vizquel played 11 years in Cleveland, but the Rangers don't play there until Aug. 11.

"I don't want to wait two months for two hits," Vizquel said. "If I have the chance ... I don't care where I get it."

Vizquel will be playing behind Matt Harrison, who is coming off the disabled list and hasn't pitched since May 25 because of a strained left shoulder. He has pitched seven combined innings in two rehabilitation starts with Double-A Frisco and will likely be limited to 95-100 pitches on Wednesday.

"I feel really good," Harrison said. "I'm ready to get out there and hopefully everything is back to where it was -- get after hitters, be aggressive and give them six, seven, eight innings."

Harrison is 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in his past two starts. Prior to that, he had won four straight starts -- including two complete games -- with a 1.80 ERA.

Pitching matchup
TEX: LHP Matt Harrison (4-4, 5.43 ERA)
Harrison is 2-2 with a 5.63 ERA in four starts at home this season and is 7-4 with a 5.84 ERA in 14 career starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Left-handed hitters are batting .185 off him this year, but right-handers are hitting .347. He had a 3.82 ERA in five starts in May as opposed to a 7.89 ERA in April. He has never faced the Astros in his career.

HOU: RHP Russ Ortiz (3-2, 3.48 ERA)
The right-hander threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his previous start Thursday against the Cubs to extend his scoreless-innings streak to 17 2/3, the longest such streak by an Astros pitcher this year. He threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief June 7 against Pittsburgh before being put back in the rotation when Felipe Paulino was forced to miss a start with an injured groin. Ortiz is 7-6 with a 3.75 ERA all-time in Interleague Play in 26 games, including 22 starts. Against the Rangers, he's pitched 20 2/3 innings in seven games (two starts) and has yet to pick up a decision against them.

Tidbits
Manager Ron Washington said Taylor Teagarden will not catch Harrison on Wednesday. They were paired before the injury but Teagarden will catch Thursday with Vicente Padilla on the mound. ... Frank Francisco (strained shoulder) will begin a medical rehabilitation assignment on Thursday with Triple-A Oklahoma. He threw in the bullpen without problem on Tuesday. ... Willie Eyre (strained groin) will start a rehab assignment there on Wednesday. ... Dustin Nippert (strained back) will start his rehab assignment on Thursday with Frisco. ... The Rangers have signed nine more Draft picks, including outfielder Braxton Lane (seventh round), pitcher Braden Tullis (eighth round), pitcher Justin Jamison (13th round) and pitcher Keith Campbell (15th round). The Rangers have signed 14 of 51 Draft picks. ... Orlando Hernandez has begun working out with Triple-A Oklahoma and said he needs to throw three more sessions of batting practice before he's ready to pitch in a game. He also said that he plans on pitching in relief rather than as a starter.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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On radio
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Up next
• Thursday: Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 5-3, 4.82) vs. Astros (Mike Hampton, 4-5, 4.70), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Rangers (Scott Feldman, 5-1, 3.70) at Giants (Randy Johnson, 6-5, 4.89), 9:15 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Rangers (Derek Holland, 1-4, 6.63) at Giants (Matt Cain, 9-1, 2.39), 8:05 p.m. CT

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.