Notes: Kinsler deal a priority
Team hoping to lock up second baseman; Sosa circus to start
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Just as they once did with Hank Blalock and Michael Young, the Rangers will talk to second baseman Ian Kinsler's agents about a multiyear contract that would avoid future arbitration hearings.Kinsler has not yet agreed to a contract for 2007 and the Rangers would like to have all players signed by the time they start playing exhibition games next Friday. "I'm not going to talk about contract situations but he's a guy who played well last year and a player we really value," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's under our control for some time but he also has a chance to be a very good player for us." Blalock agreed to his current five-year, $15.25 million contract after just one full season in the Majors and the Rangers have a $6.2 million option for 2009 that would buy out one year of free agency. Young had 2.134 years of service time before agreeing to his current four-year, $10.5 million contract and the Rangers have a $5 million option on him for 2008. Kinsler was the Rangers' Rookie of the Year in 2006 when he hit .86 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs. "I would definitely entertain it," Kinsler said. "It's getting kind of late but I wouldn't mind if they approached me about it." Sosa coming to town: Sammy Sosa is expected to arrive in Arizona on Thursday night and join the Rangers for the first full-squad workout on Friday. The Rangers expect a full day of media coverage. Television crews have already been warned to set up in the parking lot by 7 a.m. MT for his arrival. A press conference is scheduled to be held at the city library across the street where there is a room big enough to meet the demand. "I know we're going to have more national media attention in this camp then we ever had before," Daniels said. "I expect it to be a big turnout. I look at it as a return to baseball for Sammy welcoming him back. We'll answer questions the best we can and let his performance and work dictate the rest. "I hope it's a positive day and a one-day affair and we can get back to the business of baseball." Daniels knew from the beginning that signing Sosa to even a Minor League contract had the potential for distraction. "It's more than just potential," Daniels said. "Beyond that, you're giving an invitation to camp to a guy who has done a lot for the game and he's in good shape. He's looking for a spot on the club. I understand the critical reaction but I don't see a downside."
Wright shines: Pitchers are still just throwing off a mound in the bullpen but Jamey Wright caught the attention of manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mark Connor on Monday."Jamey Wright was hitting his spots pretty good and his breaking ball was pretty good," Washington said. Connor has also been impressed with A.J. Murray, who is coming off shoulder surgery. He has been doing everything other pitchers have done; his bullpen sessions just aren't as long. "I like what I've seen," Connor said. "I've always liked A.J. I've had a chance to watch him throw in the past in Minor League camp and he's got a great feel for pitching. He looks like a pitcher. He has good movement, changes speeds, locates his fastball and is a very mature young man." Wilkerson watch: Brad Wilkerson, coming off shoulder surgery, has had no problems so far in camp and said there's no reason why he shouldn't be 100 percent by Opening Day. "I feel 100 percent now," Wilkerson said. "I could use a little more strength, that's the only thing. All the pain is gone, that's the main thing." He said it:
"If [Alfonso] Soriano can do it, I can do it.
Joaquin Arias, on a possible move from shortstop to center field. Briefly: Pitcher John Rheinecker was shut down because of back spasms. He is day-to-day. ... The Rangers have four B games scheduled so far to accommodate the demand for time on the mound. Three are against the Kansas City Royals and one against the Milwaukee Brewers. ... Hot in Texas? Thursdays will be $1 soft drinks and $3 beers starting in June at home games. Bobblehead nights for Young and Kinsler, plus $2 T-shirt Tuesdays are also on the promotion schedule.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.