BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Texas announced Monday afternoon that the results of the MRI examination on Nelson Cruz revealed a grade I strain of his left hamstring. It is estimated that the injury will keep him out of action for three weeks.
Speculation in local media outlets has outfielder Leonys Martin joining the Rangers from AAA Round Rock to replace Cruz on the active roster for Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay. Martin is a Cuban defector that was signed this past May. He is hitting .295 with four home runs, and 42 RBIs at three minor league levels in the organization. The speedy outfielder has stolen 19 bases. The left-handed batting outfielder is already on the 40-man roster.
Also right handed pitcher Mark Hamburger is rumored to be coming from Round Rock to the Rangers. Hamburger started Sunday’s game, but was removed after pitching one inning. Neither he nor Martin joined the Express on their Monday flight to Omaha. It is not immediately known who will be demoted to make room on the active roster for Hamburger, who is not already on the 40-man roster.
In the Rangers’ pecking order, Martin is the next outfielder in line to be called up. However, he is a left-handed batting, speedy, centerfield, leadoff type player. In other words, he’s a younger, less experienced Endy Chavez. With Adrian Beltre on the disabled list, though expected back shortly, perhaps by Thursday; and with Cruz going on the disabled list; the Rangers really need a right-handed bat with power.
Along those lines, C. J. Wilson appeared on a local sports radio talk show this morning and openly campaigned for a trade to acquire outfielder/first baseman Lance Berkman from the Cardinals. The switch-hitting Berkman was reportedly of interest to the Rangers last winter when he was a free agent. Berkman opted to sign with St. Louis instead and made some disparaging remarks about the Rangers saying in effect that without Cliff Lee, he didn’t expect Texas to contend again this year.
Berkman has gone on to revive his career. He is batting .289 with 30 home runs and 89 RBIs, and he made the All-Star team. That’s a strong come back from 2010 when he played 122 games for Houston and the Yankees, combining to hit .248 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs. The MLB Trade Rumors site reports that Berkman has cleared waivers and thus could be traded.
At the All-Star game, Wilson said that Berkman left him a hand written note apologizing for his comments. He is certainly a bat that would make a difference to the Rangers. Trades can be made for players that have cleared waivers through the end of the season, but a player has to be acquired by Wednesday (August 31) in order to be eligible to participate in post season play.
UPDATE: Late Monday night, the Mariners scored two runs in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie and closer Brandon League came on to shut out the Angels in the ninth inning for his 32nd save, as Seattle beat Los Angeles 5-3 to cut the Rangers’ “Magic Number” to 25.