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Tuesday morning things

Some actual news out there this morning, believe it or not...

Evan Grant reports from the Rangers mini-camp, and says that the big story is Joaquin Arias working with Rangers coach Gary Pettis on making a switch to centerfield.

The motivation here is two-fold...most obviously, Michael Young is the Ranger shortstop, and the goal appears to be to lock him up long-term, so if Arias stays at shortstop, he's not going to have anywhere to play. The other issue, though, is that if Arias doesn't start to hit (and Grant points out that Arias had the 5th lowest OBP in the PCL last season), he's not going to make it to the majors as a regular anyway. By learning to play the outfield, it gives Arias more of an opportunity to carve out a role as a utility player, if his bat doesn't develop to the point where he can be an everyday player.

Grant also reports that Hank Blalock attended the mini-camp, and worked with Rudy Jaramillo on his swing and with Ron Washington on his footwork around third base. A return to 2003-04 by Blalock would be huge...I'm keeping my fingers crossed there...

Another guy, of course, we'd love to see get back to his 2003-04 form is Brad Wilkerson, and Evan Grant has a feature piece on Wilkerson today.

Grant talks to Wilkerson about the struggles of 2006, the confusion Wilkerson (and others) had in dealing with Buck Showalter and the mixed messages Buck provided, and the efforts Wilkerson has made to get himself in top condition for the 2007 season, including hiring a personal trainer and putting himself on a strict diet and workout regimen.

In other player news, the Sammy Sosa contract has apparently been finalized, and the Rangers worked out Desi Relaford and have offered a minor league contract to Bruce Chen.

Chen is an interesting case...he was great for the Orioles in 2005, and then was awful for them in 2006, resulting in him sifting through minor league invites. He's been an enigma for years, driving pitching coaches crazy, and although he still seems young, he turns 30 in June, and made his major league debut just a couple of weeks before the Rangers clinched their second division title.

Chen has been traded five times, signed as a free agent twice (three times once he signs a deal this offseason), and claimed off of waivers once.

But he's shown enough that he's still intriguing, and I'd be interested in seeing the Rangers bring him in to compete for the #5 starter spot and provide some insurance in AAA. He's a better option than Jamey Wright, after all.