First-place Rangers seek relief

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:37 PM ET

TORONTO - The Texas Rangers are hard to please.

Make that manager Ron Washington is hard to please.

On Friday, the Rangers invade Rogers Centre for their one and only series in Toronto. Heading into Thursday night’s games, the Rangers were in first place in the AL West, two games in front of the Los Angeles Angels with the other two teams in the division of no account.

Overall, the Rangers sport a strong rotation and offensively they are among the best as they can hit for both average and power.

If they have a soft underbelly it is their bullpen which this week has proved to be a sore point for Washington.

After his bullpen blew big leads earlier in the week, Washington declared: “We need reinforcements.”

With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline ticking closer, the heat is on the Rangers’ management to come up with some, well, relief.

“It’s that time of year,” Washington told reporters. “Everybody wants to make their team better. Everybody is trying to get reinforcements. That I want to also shouldn’t be any big deal.”

No big deal at all.

As it stands the Rangers right now can be grouped with Boston and the Yankees as the Big Three in the American League.

A stronger bullpen, the addition of a proven closer, may be the final push the Rangers need to put them back over the top.

General manager Jon Daniels has repeatedly said his main focus will be on improving the bullpen and among the big names that he is looking to bag are San Diego closer Heath Bell and Florida’s Leo Nunez.

The current closer for the Rangers is Neftali Feliz and after his blown save on Wednesday against the Twins he was feeling plenty of heat from Washington.

It was his fifth blown save of the season, two more than last season when he was good in 40 of 43 save situations.

“I’d like to see more fire,” Washington said following the loss. “When he comes in the game, I want to feel like it’s do or die. I try to tell him all the time how important those three outs are. I just don’t see that sense of urgency.”

Naturally, Feliz didn’t see it that way.

“Last year I was more nervous,” he said. “Now, I feel more relaxed. I know what I’m doing out there.”

Daniels, meanwhile, is playing it low-key and will only say his chances of making a trade are “50-50 or less.”

Given how the Rangers can rake with the bats and can match up rotation-wise, there is plenty of pressure on Daniels to plug the obvious leak.


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