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The Wilkerson situation

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Brad Wilkerson and his shoulder is the big story right now. I've said before, Brad Wilkerson being healthy and productive is one of the biggest keys to the Rangers' success (or lack thereof) in 2006...if he's not healthy, the Rangers are going to be a lot less likely to be hanging with the A's in the A.L. West race.

In any case Jon Daniels says he's optimistic that it isn't a significant problem, after an examination by Dr. Lewis Yocum revealed no structural damage, although Wilkerson is coming back to Texas for an MRI and an exam by the Rangers' team physician.

On the injured pitcher front, Adam Eaton threw in a minor league game and appears to be healthy, while Evan Grant suggests that C.J. Wilson is more likely to start the season in AAA. While Wilson seemingly was the Rangers' first choice to fill the 2nd lefty role in the pen, along with Brian Shouse, his injury problems this spring, along with Erasmo Ramirez being out of options and Fabio Castro's status as a Rule 5 pick, seem likely to see him start the year at AAA to get himself back to 100%, while the Rangers delay making a decision on either Erasmo, Castro or both.

The other aspect of this is that, if the Rangers don't make a deal for a starting pitcher, whoever ends up as the #5 starter will apparently (in the Rangers' mind) be whoever did the least to lose the job, rather than to win the job. So Wilson, who Buck and Connor seem to really like, could go back to AAA and work in the rotation, in anticipation of being needed before too long to replace Dominguez or Dickey as the #5 starter.

And that would appear more likely in light of Kat O'Brien reporting that Daniels doesn't expect to trade for a 5th starter. O'Brien says that other teams have expressed interest in the Rangers' plethora of lefty relievers, but that it doesn't appear that the Rangers are going to be able to use one of them to pry away a legitimate starter from another team.

Here's the most interesting snippet from O'Brien's piece:

One club official said the job will probably go to Dominguez or Dickey, unless Volquez is dominant in his next outing. Dominguez and Dickey also are candidates for the bullpen.

This, of course, directly contradicts what O'Brien's former S-T colleague, T.R. Sullivan, has reported -- that Dominguez is no longer a candidate for the 5th starter job.

How to explain the contradiction? Well, I think both Sullivan and O'Brien are way too professional to just make things up. And with Sullivan now writing for the Rangers' website, it doesn't make sense for him to write things just to "stir the pot" and try to sell papers.

My guess? Someone with the Rangers told Sullivan, point-blank, that Dominguez is no longer a candidate for the #5 starter job. That someone is probably Buck, Connor, or Chiti. And that may have been because that person has made his mind up that that is the case, or it may be because that person has made up their mind that he don't want Dominguez in the rotation, and is using Sullivan to make a point and create some pressure on our young new g.m., who seems to be one of the few people in the Rangers' organization still in Dominguez's corner.

I'm guessing the "club official" was probably Thad Levine, or maybe A.J. Preller...two guys who, in reading the tea leaves, seem to be tight with Daniels.

And make no mistake...regardless of who ends up in the 5th starter role, be it Dominguez, Dickey, or someone else, I think Daniels is the one who will be making that call. I think if it were up to Buck Showalter, Dominguez would already be optioned to AAA.

Speaking of optioning to AAA, Kevin Walker and Jason Botts have both been sent down. Neither move surprising, although Walker had been discussed as a possible lefty reliever, and Botts is probably the best DH option on the team right now.

O'Brien also has a sympathetic look at Alfonso Soriano's reluctance to change positions.