Dellucci Brings Rangers Mound Help

The Rangers always seem to be in need of pitching, and with Adam Eaton requiring finger surgery that could sideline him for three months, they’re more desperate than usual. After picking up lefthanders John Koronka and John Rheinecker in a three-team deal on Friday, they traded David Dellucci to get another arm on Saturday. The Phillies surrendered Robinson Tejeda and outfield prospect Jake Blalock in exchange, and Texas will pick up part of Dellucci’s $950,000 salary for 2006.

Dellucci, 32, battled Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix for a starting job in the Rangers outfield this spring before being deemed expendable. He’ll serve as a quality fourth outfielder for the Philadelphia, backing up Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand. Dellucci is coming off the best season of his major league career, having batted .251/.367/.513 with 29 homers and 65 RBIs in 128 games last year. A lefthanded hitter who’s ineffective against southpaws, he strikes out too much to hit for a high average (121 times in 435 at-bats in 2005) but has power and draws walks (76 last year). Capable of playing all three outfield positions, he fits best in left field because he has average speed and a below-average arm. Dellucci will be a free agent after his two-year, $1.8 million contract expires at the end of the season. He’s a career .259/.345/.438 hitter with 73 homers and 289 RBIs in 776 games.

Tejeda, a 24-year-old righthander, was a pleasant surprise for the Phillies last year. After posting a 5.15 ERA in Double-A in 2004, he breezed through Triple-A before joining Philadelphia in May. In his initial exposure to the majors, he went 4-3, 3.57 in 26 games (13 starts). He had a 72-51 K-BB ratio in 86 innings, with opponents batting just .218 with five homers against him. Tejeda usually succeeds when he’s able to command his entire repertoire, which includes a low-90s fastball and a more ordinary curveball and changeup. He flew to Boston Saturday to be with his wife for the birth of their child, so he’ll open the season on the Triple-A Oklahoma roster and won’t be able to join the Rangers for at least 10 days.

Blalock, 22, is reunited with his older brother Hank, an all-star third baseman for the Rangers. A fifth-round pick out of a San Diego high school in 2002, Jake struggled at high Class A Clearwater last year, batting .279/.359/.388 with 11 homers and 65 RBIs in 134 games. He has above-average raw power and has made strides in cutting down his strikeout rate (100 in 502 at-bats in 2005), but he’ll need to show more for his bat to carry him to the majors. He’s no better than average in terms of speed, arm strength and left-field defense. Blalock should being the year at Double-A Frisco. In 362 minor league games, he has batted .268/.346/.420 with 33 homers and 199 RBIs.

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