BALTIMORE -- Zach Briseno of the United States Marines has been selected by fans to represent the Rangers during Major League Baseball's "Tribute For Heroes" before the 2013 All-Star Game on Tuesday at Citi Field in New York.
While on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, Briseno's convoy was hit by an IED. The explosive blew a hole in the floorboard, mangling his legs and right arm. Within two days, the Marine went from Iraq to Germany to Maryland and became a double amputee. The Fort Worth native was awarded a Purple Heart and citation and was also nominated for the American Patriot Award by Operation Military Embrace President Jerry Reed.
Briseno will join one winner representing each of the 30 MLB clubs to be included in All-Star Week festivities (private tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a VIP reception on the Intrepid, All-Star Red Carpet Show Presented by Chevrolet, Chevrolet Home Run Derby). The winners also will attend and be honored during the pregame ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field July 16th on FOX beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. CT).
Rangers play it safe, take a bow for a job well done
BALTIMORE -- The Rangers were 15-6 in their last 21 games going into Wednesday's game against the Orioles. They deserve to take a bow.
Oh, wait. They already do that. The formal Japanese bow has now become thing to do after a base hit on the team that invented the "Claw and Antlers" in 2010. Elvis Andrus is most noticeable as one who folds his hands and bows toward the Rangers dugout after getting a hit.
"When we were struggling, we were doing a lot of different handshakes," Andrus said. "We decided to do something different."
It started with Jeff Baker suffering a sprained right thumb with an over-enthusiastic teammate while exchanging high-fives. As a joke, somebody put up a sign in the Rangers dugout that said no more handshakes or high fives ... "Just Japanese bows."
The Rangers took it to heart.
"I don't know who wrote that or put it on the [dugout] wall," Andrus said. "But when they did, we all said, 'Why don't we do that?'
"It was cool. Everybody liked it. So we started doing that and we've been playing better. I've never seen a team do that. It's super cool and it's super original."
Cruz not shaken by HR Derby snub, off-field issues
BALTIMORE -- Nelson Cruz does not have to worry about the Chevrolet Home Run Derby in New York next week. Robinson Cano, who is serving as the team captain for the American League, asked for Cruz's phone number when the Rangers were in New York recently, but never called to recruit him.
Instead, Cano picked Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics even though he is not on the All-Star team. He will join Cano, Chris Davis and defending champion Prince Fielder to represent the AL.
"I want to be in it, but I understand what's more important for the team," said Cruz, who was the runner-up in the 2009 Home Run Derby. "It's a great experience. But at that time, we were in a different situation than we are now."
Cruz, who was selected as a reserve outfielder on the AL squad, was reluctant to participate in the Home Run Derby because of concerns about how his body feels. Some days are better than others, Cruz said. But overall, it has been a good first half as he has played in 87 of the Rangers first 90 games. He went into Wednesday's game hitting .277 with 22 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .529 slugging percentage.
Nothing seems to be bothering him, and that includes the ever-present rumors surrounding Major League Baseball's ongoing investigation into Biogenesis, the Miami clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to certain prominent players. Cruz is among those who have been linked to the clinic.
Cruz has declined to discuss the matter any more, although that may be difficult to do during his two-day media-intensive stay in New York. But manager Ron Washington believes Cruz can handle it and will still enjoy the All-Star experience.
"However he has been dealing with it, he's been doing a good job with it," Washington said. "You have to give him credit for mental toughness. We have a lot of that in the clubhouse, so I'm not surprised. He has been steadfast. You find out what a person is made of when he has been challenged, and he's met the challenge."
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Washington relying more on Frasor in later innings
BALTIMORE -- Right-hander Jason Frasor was signed as a free agent in the offseason to play a prominent role in the Rangers bullpen. That's finally happening.
Manager Ron Washington is starting to go to Frasor and Joakim Soria -- recently activated off the disabled list -- in the later innings to take some of the workload away from Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Neal Cotts.
"Frasor has done it before, so it was just a matter of time for us to be able to get him the innings," Washington said. "In our mode of trying to keep the bullpen as fresh as we can, he's getting more important innings and he's delivered."
Frasor went into Wednesday's game having retired 16 of the last 18 batters he faced. He also had a 0.79 ERA in his last 14 games, dropping his overall ERA from 3.86 to 2.49.
"I feel good and my arm feels good," Frasor said. "You let it rip and cross your fingers. I understand early in the year, if I put myself in the manager's shoes, it's hard not to go with Scheppers and Ross. I figured I'd get my chance, and we're in the middle of it."
Manny goes deep for first time at Triple-A
BALTIMORE -- Manny Ramirez delivered his first home run on Tuesday night for Triple-A Round Rock. Ramirez, in his third game since being signed by the Rangers to a Minor League contract, hit a home run off Oklahoma City's Wade LeBlanc in Round Rock's 11-8 victory.
Ramirez was 2-for-4 with a walk and is now 3-for-10 since joining Round Rock. But he still needs to show more. General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers will take their time in evaluating Ramirez, who has not played in the Major Leagues in over two years.
The Rangers aren't inclined to make a snap judgment, even though they could use another right-handed bat. Jurickson Profar, a switch-hitter, made his second start in left field on Wednesday night with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on the mound for the Orioles.
• Class A Hickory infielder Joey Gallo remains sidelined with a strained groin muscle and the Rangers remain unsure if he can play in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in New York. Catcher Jorge Alfaro, the other Rangers prospect selected for the game, had to back out of the game because of a broken hand.
• Pitcher Justin Miller has been promoted from Double-A Frisco to Triple-A Round Rock. He was 1-0 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 appearances after missing all of last season because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
• Washington on using Profar in the outfield: "It's still an ongoing process. He's certainly making himself more valuable going out there and being serviceable. The more opportunities we give him to go out there and chase balls, the more comfortable he'll get."
• Adrian Beltre hit his 20th home run on Tuesday night. He is now one of six third basemen who have hit 20 or more home runs in at least 11 seasons.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.