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Cruz's injury has Rangers stretched thin

Cruz's injury has Rangers stretched thin

OAKLAND -- The Rangers are willing to wait on injured outfielder Nelson Cruz rather than make an immediate roster move, but they aren't going to wait too long.

Cruz was out of the lineup on Tuesday after suffering a sprained left ankle in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Athletics. Cruz, who is still having trouble walking, is listed as day-to-day.

"It's much better," Cruz said on Tuesday. "I feel much better than yesterday."

The Rangers have been going with an eight-man bullpen lately, leaving them with a three-man bench. Essentially, they have a backup catcher, infielder and outfielder. With Cruz sidelined, they have just two players on the bench. On Tuesday night, it was catcher Taylor Teagarden and infielder Omar Vizquel.

Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers can't keep playing short. They would like to make a move before opening a three-game series against the Angels on Friday night in Anaheim.

"We've got to have some answers before then," Washington said.

They could drop a reliever by then and add another position player, most likely an outfielder. By Friday Dustin Nippert should be ready to work out of the bullpen. He made a spot start on Monday in place of Kevin Millwood but is going back to the bullpen as a long man.

Millwood, who is sidelined with a strained left gluteus muscle, threw in the bullpen on Monday and expects to be ready to start on Saturday against the Angels.

"It's better," Millwood said. "I feel like by Saturday it will be good enough where I can pitch."

With Millwood in the rotation and Nippert back in the bullpen by Friday, the Rangers could send reliever Doug Mathis back to the Minors and call up an extra outfielder.

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Vicente Padilla (8-5, 4.66 ERA)
Padilla allowed three earned runs over six innings against the Mariners on Friday. It was his ninth quality start, which ranks third on the Rangers' staff. He had missed his two previous starts due to the swine flu. Padilla has a 7-3 record with a 3.69 ERA over his last 12 starts and is 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA in seven starts on the road this season. He has logged at least six innings in 11 of his last 14 starts.

OAK: RHP Chad Reineke (2009 debut)
With Dallas Braden (inflamed left ankle) scratched, Reineke has been called up from Triple-A Sacramento to start in his place. Reineke is 5-4 with a 4.37 ERA in 24 games (16 starts) with the River Cats this season. The 27-year-old pitched in four games (three starts) with the Padres last season, going 2-1 with a 5.00 ERA in 18 innings. He's never faced the Rangers.

Tidbits
The Rangers are offering discount tickets for all Monday-Thursday games for the rest of the season. Fans can enter DINGER as the coupon code on texasrangers.com to purchase Upper Box, Upper Reserved and Grandstand Reserved tickets for $5 or Lexus Club Terrace, Lower Reserved, or Bleachers seats for $10. ... Eddie Guardado made his 900th career appearance on Tuesday, becoming the 21st player in MLB history to reach that mark. ... Michael Young has an 11-game hitting streak.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSSW HD

On radio
• 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Rangers (Tommy Hunter, 3-2, 2.63) at Athletics (Trevor Cahill, 6-10, 5.01), 2:35 p.m. CT
• Friday: Rangers (Scott Feldman, 10-4, 3.91) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 9-6, 5.07), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Rangers (TBD) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 11-3, 3.79), 3:10 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.

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