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Rangers prepare to face Ohtani as hitter

Texas was among finalists to reel in Japanese phenom this winter
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers won't face Shohei Ohtani as a pitcher during their three-game series with the Angels this week. Ohtani also was not in the lineup on Monday as designated hitter, but the two-way phenom could be in the next two days.

What the Rangers were hoping for was having Ohtani on their side by signing him as a free agent out of Japan this offseason. The Rangers were one of seven final teams who met face-to-face with Ohtani in December, trying to persuade him to come to Texas, and they went into the process with high hopes.

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers won't face Shohei Ohtani as a pitcher during their three-game series with the Angels this week. Ohtani also was not in the lineup on Monday as designated hitter, but the two-way phenom could be in the next two days.

What the Rangers were hoping for was having Ohtani on their side by signing him as a free agent out of Japan this offseason. The Rangers were one of seven final teams who met face-to-face with Ohtani in December, trying to persuade him to come to Texas, and they went into the process with high hopes.

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"I felt like our group put together a presentation unlike any other," manager Jeff Banister said. "We felt good about it, really good about it. No one prepared better, [scouting director] Josh Boyd and our scouting staff did a tremendous job. Everybody in [public relations], video, strength and conditioning, training staff, coaching staff, our Pacific Rim scouts ... really did a great job."

The other teams were the Angels, Padres, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers and Mariners. The Rangers felt they had put themselves in good position to land Ohtani, having developed a personal relationship going back to high school.

But the 23-year-old ended up signing with the Angels.

"There is always disappointment, but we're all mature enough people that when another person is deciding, he is at the point where we all want to be, he gets to decide," Banister said. "I have so much respect for him that the disappointment fades away. He made his own decision. I am tremendously impressed with who he is and I have a ton of respect for him."

Ohtani was named the American League Player of the Week on Monday.

Rangers close with Martinez
The Rangers are close to finalizing their agreement with Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, according to sources. The initial agreement was reached in Spring Training. Martinez has completed the required physical in the Dominican Republic, and the Rangers' medical staff is double-checking the final results.

Martinez, who is ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Rangers' system by MLB Pipeline, is working out at the club's academy in the Dominican Republic. The Rangers are expected to make a formal announcement once everything is finalized, and Martinez will likely start his professional career playing in the Dominican Summer League this season.

Blackburn to undergo Tommy John surgery
Right-hander Clayton Blackburn has a torn ligament in his right elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery. The date of the surgery has not been set.

Blackburn was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training and started the season on the 60-day disabled list. The Rangers were hoping the elbow would heal without needing surgery, but that has not been the case.

The Rangers acquired Blackburn from the Giants on April 16, 2017, and they were counting on him being part of their starting-pitching depth in Triple-A. He had three scoreless starts in Spring Training before the elbow started bothering him.

"Really tough, a young guy throwing the ball extremely well," Banister said. "To come away having to have surgery, you feel for him."

Rangers beat
• Right-hander Tony Barnette was scheduled to pitch another inning with Double-A Frisco on Monday night. Barnette is on a rehab assignment after beginning the season on the DL with tightness in his lower back.

• The Rangers are planning to go with Cole Hamels, Mike Minor and Doug Fister in the three-game series against the Astros this weekend. Banister said the Rangers have no plans to find a start for Bartolo Colon, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief against the Blue Jays on Sunday.

• Colon, 44, is the oldest pitcher to appear in relief for the Rangers. The previous oldest was Arthur Rhodes, 41, in 2011. Nolan Ryan, who was 46 in 1993, is the oldest pitcher ever for the Rangers.

Gallo apparently calls Colon 'Big Sexy' in the middle of plays

• Assistant general manager Mike Daly and Spanish broadcaster Jose Guzman both celebrated birthdays on Monday.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

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