Kiker Not Added To Rangers' 40-Man





ARLINGTON — The Rule 5 draft has become a major event for the Rangers. It isn't necessarily what they've done in the draft, which is traditionally held on the final day of the Winter Meetings, but the 40-man roster decisions they've had to make to protect eligible players from being exposed to the draft.

Among the calls the Rangers made last year was adding lefthander Michael Kirkman to the 40-man, and he rewarded them by blossoming into the pitcher of the year in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He joined the Rangers in late August and earned a spot in the bullpen in the American League Championship Series and World Series.

So they did not take lightly the Nov. 19 deadline to finalize their 40-man roster. General manager Jon Daniels said the club considered adding three to five players. Their 2006 first-round pick, whose 23rd birthday arrived on deadline day, was among them, but was not added to the 40-man roster.

Lefthander Kasey Kiker, the 10th overall pick in 2006 out of an Alabama high school, had a disappointing repeat year at Double-A Frisco. After going to major league spring training, Kiker went 1-4, 7.65 with 42 strikeouts and 46 walks over 40 innings.

Kiker dealt with elbow inflammation that cost him a month beginning in late May, and shoulder fatigue in August. He lost his mechanics to the point that he was shut down and sent to instructional league after the season to try to right himself.

Kiker was healthy and throwing again this winter in Puerto Rico, however, and was 2-0, 2.33 in 19 innings for Ponce.

"We had to get him going in the right direction," farm director Scott Servais said. "He got things ironed out. He wanted to go pitch winter ball, and I had no problems with it. We just want him to go pitch."

RANGER ROUNDUP

• Righthander Danny Gutierrez was shut down with mild inflammation of his rotator cuff after only one inning in the Arizona Fall League. It was a wasted year for Gutierrez, who was suspended for the first 50 games of the season after testing positive to a banned substance during the offseason.

• Righthander Mark Prior, who signed a minor league contract in September and pitched briefly at Triple-A, elected to become a free agent. The Rangers still might offer him a chance to come to big league spring training on another minor league deal.