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Thursday morning things

Well, the biggest news of the day for the Rangers doesn't even involve a Ranger player.

A's centerfielder Mark Kotsay is going to have back surgery, and will be sidelined at least three months. The A's outfield of Swisher, Kotsay and Bradley -- a terrific defensive outfield -- now becomes an outfield of Stewart, Bradley and Swisher, a much less impressive defensive outfield.

It will be interesting to see whether the A's make a move to try to shore up their outfield situation, given that Bobby Kielty is also hurt, but this is a significant blow to the defending A.L. West champs.

According to Dave Sessions in the S-T, the outfield situation is pretty well settled, with Sammy Sosa already getting locked in to the Opening Day roster and a regular gig in the DH/OF mix. Sessions calls Sosa a "proven hitter," and it appears that the fiction about how Sosa was going to have to earn a job this spring is being set aside now.

Tim Cowlishaw says much the same thing in a Sosa column, quoting Ron Washington as saying the only difference between Sosa 2006 and Frank Thomas 2005 was that Thomas was hurt when he joined the A's.

Sosa homered yesterday, off Livan Hernandez, although Evan Grant points out that Sosa has consistently hammered Livan throughout their career, and that he's hitting fastballs, but struggling with breaking pitches.

Washington says he's going to use a rotation of sorts between the corner outfield and DH slots, which makes sense, given the questions that surround just about all of the candidates for those slots. This should allow the Rangers to get all of their options there regular playing time in the first couple of months, get a sense for who can be relied upon and who can't, and make some decisions on whether someone needs to be brought in from outside.

And as for Jason Botts, it looks like he's going to have to go elsewhere to get his shot. Reading between the lines, it looks to me like Rudy doesn't think Botts' swing will cut it in the major leagues, and at this point, the Rangers are probably best served dealing him this spring for whatever they can get, rather than having him hang around for another season in Oklahoma while his value continues to decrease as he gets stuck with the AAAA label (even more so than he already has).

In non-Sosa news, John Koronka bounced back from a bad spring debut to pitch three scoreless innings yesterday, and Kam Loe had his second strong outing of the spring. Loe, of course, was in the rotation to start last season, and had a 4.29 ERA after 10 starts, before struggling in his last 5 outings and getting sent back to AAA.