Sure Enough, Your Texas Rangers See First Place Again

On the heels of being one-hit by somebody named Chad Gaudin and losing the opener of a series in Arlington, I wondered aloud if the Texas Rangers would ever see first place in the AL West this season.

Answer: Yes.

Since then they have won seven of eight, including last night's 8-1 thumping of Anaheim powered by Andruw Jones' three homers.

The Rangers are indeed in first place. They are 7-2 against the Angels.

It's time - he said with caution gleened from 37 years of flirtatious frustration - to take this team seriously. And it's time ...

For Jon Daniels to take a bow.

Jones, who produced only the 15th three-homer game in franchise history, was horrible last year for the Dodgers. Hit less than .200. Three homers all year. He was essentially left for dead.

Daniels, who has been pretty keen at eyeing, evaluating and acquiring reclamation projects in recent years (Eric Gagne, Kenny Lofton, etc.) signed him to a spring training contract of $500,000 plus incentives. Early on, it appeared the gamble wasn't going to pay off as Jones struck out in 10 of his first 14 at-bats.

But then Jones started hitting. He beat out Frank Catalanotto for a roster spot and has been one of this season's most pleasant surprises. So far at least, he's soothed the loss of Milton Bradley's bat.

Whether he has a long-term future with the Rangers is iffy, but his present is a credit to Daniels.

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