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Tuesday morning first place Rangers stuff

It was a very nice holiday weekend, sports-wise.

The Rangers took three of four from the Swinging A's, then beat Seattle last night, giving them a four game lead.

And the Mavs took a pair of games from Phoenix, in a manner that suggests that they are taking control of the series.

I'm happy.

I do find it remarkable, though, that Oakland is continuing to flounder, as they lost last night to the pitiful Royals. Anaheim, I didn't expect to be all that great this season (although I expected them to be better than they've shown thusfar), but Oakland I thought would be in better shape right now.

The Rangers need to take advantage of the listlessness of the division, and put some more distance between them and Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle...

Evan Grant says John Rheinecker's performance last night has complicated the Rangers' decision on what to do with him. The original plan seemed to have been to send Rheinecker out today, call up a positional player (probably Freddy Guzman, I'd imagine, since 10 days haven't elapsed since Drew Meyer was sent down), and then drop a positional player to make room for Antonio Alfonseca when he comes off the disabled list.

Grant suggests, though, that the Rangers make keep Rheinecker around for a little while, although I think that would be a mistake.

The Rangers don't need a fifth starter against until June 10, when they play a doubleheader against Boston, and will need two fifth starters. The best plan would seem to be to send Rheinecker back to Oklahoma to work out of the rotation, call up Robinson Tejeda to start game 1 of the June 10 doubleheader, option him after the game, and call up John Rheinecker to start game 2 (presuming that you want Rheinecker to be the fifth starter going forward, rather than Tejeda).

There seems to be some thought that Rheinecker should pitch out of the bullpen for the Rangers until his turn comes back around, but I think that's a bad idea. The Rangers would be better served by getting another player in here, and letting Rheinecker continue to pitch as a starter in Oklahoma until he's needed again. Plus, keeping Rheinecker around means most likely sending Scott Feldman down when Alfonseca comes back.

In off-the-field news, Grant says that the Rangers have extended the contracts of all their TV and radio voices, with Eric Nadel, currently in his 28th year with the club, getting a deal which Grant says should make him a "Ranger for life."

On the injury front, Grant indicates that Frankie Francisco is expected to start a rehab assignment sometime after extended spring training outings on Wednesday and Friday. T.R. Sullivan suggests Francisco might actually make it back before Alfonseca does...he says Francisco hit 94 mph in an extended spring game, while Alfonseca is still missing a few mph on his fastball right now.

Sullivan also says that Armando Galarraga has been placed on the disabled list with elbow soreness, although it isn't thought to be serious, and Brian Anderson has worked an inning in extended spring training.

Brad Wilkerson, per Sullivan, will start today after missing three of the last five games, with Kevin Mench sitting.

On the slump watch...the Phil Nevin for MVP bandwagon is being busted up for scrap, with Nevin going 2 for his last 30, and only 1 walk over that stretch, dropping him to .216/.307/.415 for the season. The Rangers have to cut bait with him, soon.

Both the S-T and the DMN today talked about Michael Young breaking out his slump yesterday, but he's currently just 2 for his last 20, with a .310/.365/.417 line for the year.

Meanwhile, I think Jacque Jones' mother is angling for a Chunky Soup commercial:

In Friday's game, Jones lost a ball in the sun during the seventh inning that ruined Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter. In the bottom of the inning, Jones was called out on strikes and a fan allegedly yelled, "The sun must have gotten in your eyes."

According to witnesses, the fan was berated by a finger-wagging woman wearing a replica of Jones' No. 11 jersey. It turns out the woman was Jones' mother, sitting two rows away.

Jones admitted the incident happened but was reluctant to go into details.

"She took care if it," he said. "She took care of it how every parent should.

"You shouldn't have to listen to that when you come to games."

My favorite part is Jacque Jones claiming that "every parent" should deal with folks that way.