Texas gets catcher, right-handed pitcher

Updated: April 5, 2004, 9:38 AM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers traded catcher Einar Diaz to the Montreal Expos, clearing a roster spot for Gerald Laird.

Texas also sent minor league pitcher Justin Echols to the Expos for switch-hitting catcher Josh McKinley, Montreal's top draft pick in 1998, and right-hander Chris Young, a Dallas native.

Texas will pay $2 million of Diaz's $2.5 million salary under the terms of Saturday's deal.

Diaz, who took over last year from 10-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez, started 95 games last year. He hit .257 and threw out 31 percent (22 of 71) of runners attempting to steal.

The 24-year-old Laird, who hit .273 in his only 19 major league games last season, batted .407 this spring. Laird and Rod Barajas, who played for Texas manager Buck Showalter in Arizona, will split time to start the season.

With outfielder Brian Jordan starting the season on the disabled list because of a sprained left knee, the Rangers recalled Ramon Nivar from Triple-A Oklahoma.

Pitchers Brian Shouse (left shoulder tendinitis) and Jeff Zimmerman (right elbow) also are starting the season on the 15-day disabled list. Outfielder Rusty Greer is on the 60-day DL.

To get down to the active limit of 25, the Rangers optioned right-handers Ryan Drese and Ricardo Rodriguez to Oklahoma, and reassigned right-hander Doug Brocail, catcher Ken Huckaby, infielder Manny Alexander and outfielders Jason Conti and Chad Allen to Oklahoma.

Texas will begin the season with 12 pitchers, including starters Kenny Rogers, Chan Ho Park, Colby Lewis and R.A. Dickey. Mickey Callaway is expected to split time as a No. 5 starter and long relief.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press