Continuing their search for a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, the Texas Rangers recently signed veteran southpaw reliever Joe Beimel to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
LHP Joe Beimel and OF/1B Conor Jackson signed minor league deals with the Rangers, and both were invited to the team's big-league camp.
Beimel, 34, was removed from the Pirates' roster last August after going 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA in 35 appearances. He could land a job as a lefty specialist, as neither Darren Oliver nor Mike Gonzalez was re-signed after last season.
Beimel has appeared in 567 career major league games between the '01 and '11 seasons. He was a key member of the Colorado Rockies bullpen in 2010, pitching in 71 games (logging 45 total innings) and posting a 3.40 ERA. While fellow lefties hit over .300 against Beimel last season, he limited them to a .221/.275/.353 slash line two years ago.
The southpaw works with a three-pitch mix, including a mid-to-upper 80s fastball, upper-70s curveball and upper-70s changeup.
There's still a chance that the Rangers could sign Gonzalez, who remains on the free agent market. The southpaw allowed four runs in seven regular season innings after joining the Rangers from Baltimore late last season.
Jackson, 29, was traded from Oakland to Boston last summer. Combined, he hit .244/.310/.341 with five homers and 43 RBI in 114 games. The Austin native and former first-round pick from Cal is a career .271/.351/.407 hitter in 658 contests.
The Rangers rewarded manager Ron Washington with his second two-year contract extension in 14 months. The two-year deal, added to his current contract, gives Washington security through the 2014 season. If he stays through the end of the contract, Washington would have managed the most games in Rangers history.
Rangers officials confirmed a meeting with free agent RHP Roy Oswalt on Jan. 30, but they did not elaborate on anything else. Texas would like to add Oswalt but currently doesn't have a clean fit for him in the rotation. The team likely would have to move a pitcher either to the bullpen or make a trade to fit in Oswalt. Still, it's possible the club could sign him to a deal, take an abundance of arms to spring training and let things get sorted there.
INF Luis Hernandez and OF Julio Borbon, who will go to camp trying to win spots on the major league roster, will be at least be in shape to compete for jobs. Both made teams competing in the Caribbean Series. Hernandez was playing for Venezuela, while Borbon was competing for the Dominican Republic.
Borbon's Dominican Republic-champion Leones del Escogido took home the Serie del Caribe crown by beginning the series with a 4-0 record. The remainder of the games are being played out, and the tournament concludes on Tuesday evening.
OF Kyle Hudson signed a minor league contract with the Rangers. Hudson was a wide receiver at Illinois for three seasons and led the Illini in receptions and yardage in 2005-06. He had 81 steals in 112 attempts during his last two years in the Baltimore organization. Hudson, 25, went 4-for-28 (.143) in 14 games with the Orioles as a September call-up last year. He played for three Baltimore farm teams last year, hitting a combined .296 with a .375 on-base percentage.
The Rangers have repeatedly cited the importance of scouting in their rise to two-time AL champions, and they have continued to invest in the scouting department this winter. The club recently beefed up its full-time amateur scouting staff from 21 to 24.
By the Numbers: 343 – Games played by OF Josh Hamilton over the past three years, after he played a career-high 156 in 2008, his first season in Texas. Since that year, he has annually missed an average of about one-third of the season.
Quote to Note: "If it's going to happen, I hope it happens quickly." -- RHP Koji Uehara, to Japanese reporters on the possibility of being traded. The Rangers had a deal in place with Toronto, but Uehara used his limited no-trade protection to veto the trade.
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