Rangers gain strong bat in Mar­lins’ Cantu

Lat­est trade ad­di­tion fills gap for Texas and sat­is­fies ver­sa­tile player

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Janie McCauley

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Jorge Cantu saw the light blink­ing on his cell phone when he got to his locker and knew it might fi­nally be time. Then, he read the text mes­sage from his agent: He was headed for Texas.

The AL West-lead­ing Rangers added an­other key piece for the play­off push, ac­quir­ing the rock-solid hit­ting Cantu from the Florida Mar­lins on Thurs­day for two good mi­nor league pitch­ers.

“Deep in­side I’m very sad to leave the Mar­lins, of course,” Cantu said. “My turn is to go right now to the Texas Rang- ers and help that ball­club out. They’re play­ing well and win­ning the di­vi­sion. I think it will be fun. When­ever you go to a new team it’s al­ways fun and ex­cit­ing.”

Cantu will join Texas in Ana­heim tonight.

“This was one of the big­ger holes we wanted to ad­dress,” Rangers gen­eral man­ager Jon Daniels said. “I would ex­pect most of his play­ing time will come at first base, but you never know.”

Cantu, 28, hit .262 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs for Florida. He’s ex­pected to the right-handed part of a pla­toon with ei­ther rookie Mitch More­land or Chris Davis, one of whom is likely to be sent down to clear a spot for Cantu.

In two pre­vi­ous sea­sons for the Mar­lins, Cantu bat­ted .277 with 29 homers and 95 RBIs in 2008 and .289 with 16 homers and 100 RBIs.

Cantu came up as a sec­ond base­man and ear­lier Thurs­day the Rangers put their starter, All-Star Ian Kinsler, on the dis­abled list. Daniels called Cantu’s ver­sa­til­ity “an at­trac­tive foot­note; it wasn’t the rea­son we acquired him.”

Daniels said the Rangers are pick­ing up more than half of Cantu’s salary, which is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause the team is bank­rupt.

“We’ve had the abil­ity to spend within our bud­get all along,” Daniels said. “This does not break from that.”

This was Texas’ third trade lead­ing up to the dead­line. The Rangers also got ace Cliff Lee from Seat­tle and Bengie Molina from San Fran­cisco.

Cantu’s 16 er­rors were con­cern­ing for a Florida club that has strug­gled on de­fense. He also can be­come a free agent af­ter the sea­son.

The Rangers sent Dou­bleA right-han­ders Evan Reed and Omar Poveda to Florida. Giv­ing up two solid arms for a part-time player headed to­ward free agency shows how se­ri­ous Texas is about mak­ing the most of this sea­son.

“Maybe in past years it would’ve been more chal­leng­ing — our or­ga­ni­za­tional depth wasn’t where it is now,” Daniels said. “But we felt it was a move we have to make.

“Omar has a chance to start in the big leagues. Evan is a good, power arm.”

Wes Helms will likely be­come Florida’s reg­u­lar third base­man.

Jorge Cantu

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