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July 31, 2011

Sunday pregame Rangers notes: Koji Uehara, Heath Bell

Manager Ron Washington said that Koji Uehara, acquired Saturday from Baltimore for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter, will be the Rangers' primary eighth-inning reliever. That will push Mark Lowe and Darren Oliver into the sixth and seventh innings, though they will also see duty in the eighth.

Uehara, his translator and his trainer were among the first to arrive in the clubhouse this morning. They were on a flight that left New York at 6:20. He and Yoshinori Tateyama greeted each other with a hug. They are former high-school teammates who worked out together in Tokyo over the past off-season. Uehara said that in high school he was a bench-warmer and Tateyama was the ace.

Among Uehara's primary concerns about playing for the Rangers is the heat, but he said it's better to pitch in the heat than in the cold. He suffered a hamstring injury a few years ago because of cramping in humid weather. He seemed relieved when informed that Baltimore is more humid than Arlington.

But the possibility of pitching the postseason excites him.

"I would love to experience that," said Uehara, who has pitch in the Nippon Professional Baseball playoff, the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. "I enjoy that kind of environment. People will notice you when you pitch in a big game. That's motivating, too."

The Rangers continue to talk to San Diego about closer Heath Bell. The Padres have informed clubs that they aren't going to decide on the best deal until right up to the 3 p.m. CDT trading deadline. Adding Bell could force Tateyama to go back to Triple A. He's the only candidate with options remaining.

-- Jeff Wilson


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