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Gagne returns to Rangers after stint on disabled list

NEW YORK -- Eric Gagne came off the disabled list Tuesday
and immediately returned to his role as the Texas Rangers' closer.

"He knows how to close a ballgame down," manager Ron
Washington said before his team played the New York Yankees. "So, even though he may have been in and out, he has knowledge. You
can't teach that. He knows what he's doing. It's not like this is
some young kid we're breaking in."

Eric Gagne Gagne

Akinori Otsuka, who has four saves and a 1.54 ERA, will go back
to his job as setup man. To make room on the roster for Gagne, the
Rangers optioned right-hander Wes Littleton to Triple-A Oklahoma.

Gagne went on the disabled list April 23 with a strained right
hip. He had one save in 3 1/3 scoreless innings spanning four
appearances this season. He also began the year on the DL before he
was activated April 13.

"Hopefully, this is the last one, because he was ready after
about five days and we kept him out for 15. He should be
stronger," Washington said.

The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner with the Los Angeles Dodgers,
Gagne missed nearly all of the past two seasons with elbow and back
injuries. The right-hander agreed to a $6 million, one-year
contract with Texas in the offseason, a deal loaded with potential
performance bonuses.

Washington watched Gagne throw a pair of simulated games while
he was sidelined.

"I watched him throw his stuff, and it was good," the rookie
manager said. "He actually looked stronger. He actually looked
like a monster on the mound."

Gagne converted a major league-record 84 consecutive save
chances with the Dodgers from 2002-04.