The second half of the season kicks off (for the Rangers, anyway) tonight in Minnesota, and Hank Blalock will be back at third base. He doesn't seem to be doing backflips about it:
It probably wasn't Blalock's "first" choice, however. Washington and general manager Jon Daniels asked Blalock before Wednesday's rehab game with Double-A Frisco if he would move back to third base upon his imminent activation.
"Immediately he didn't go for that. It took some time for him to think it over. It was a shock," Washington said. "Once he got some quiet time with himself and thought things out, he felt like it was best for the team. He didn't want to see Chris leave. And now I got both of them, so I'm happy."
Blalock's enthusiasm on Thursday centered more on the team's progress when he was injured than toward his shift back to third base.
"It's what the boss says is best for the team. I am an employee, and that's what I'm going to do," Blalock said.
Blalock hit .299 with two home runs and seven RBIs before he was injured.
"I hope it will be easy, I can't predict how I will play over there," Blalock said. "I know I've played plenty of games over there, to where it is a comfortable position for me. I'm going to work hard to get the rust off, and go play the second half just like I never made the transition."
Blalock said because of his experience at third base, he should feel comfortable after "a couple innings." It remains to be seen how the move will affect the Rangers' infield defense.
"My arm strength probably isn't what it used to be, after a couple surgeries, but I will be able to get the job done," Blalock said.
Those are a bunch of tepid quotes, and seems to lend some credence to those who suggested that Blalock's desire to move to first base was motivated, in part, by his own concerns about his ability to hold up and perform at third base.
Evan Grant looks at what to expect in the second half, and suggests the Rangers could get back in the playoff race with a strong road trip starting tonight. While that's probably true, I think the reality is that this team is not in a playoff race, and should continue to be building for the future at this point. If it is the end of July and the Rangers are just a couple of games out, then that would be different, but 7.5 games out of first place in mid-July is not an easy place to come back from.
Jeff Wilson runs down the candidates for team MVP, with three obvious choices having a not-so-obvious choice mixed in.
The rotation coming out of the break will be Millwood, Harrison, Padilla, Hurley, and Mendoza.
T.R. Sullivan has some Friday bloggy notes up.