Rangers send Blalock to Oklahoma to make room for Park

Sunday, May 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ The Texas Rangers optioned rookie third baseman Hank Blalock to Triple-A Oklahoma on Sunday to make room for pitcher Chan Ho Park.

Park, activated from the 15-day disabled list, started Sunday's game against Detroit, his first start since losing the season opener April 1 at Oakland. He had been on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.

The Rangers also said they hope to activate outfielder Juan Gonzalez later this week. He will begin extended spring training games in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Monday.

``I need to see live pitching. Four or five days and I will be ready,'' Gonzalez said. ``I say Friday (at Detroit) I will be back.''

Gonzalez, who has been taking batting practice for several days, has been on the disabled list with torn muscle fibers between the thumb and index finger of his right hand. He hasn't played since April 9, and in seven games batted .250 (6-for-24) with no RBIs.

Blalock, who won the starting job in spring training even though he had never played above Double A, batted .200 with a homer and six RBIs in 32 games. Since going 3-for-3 on Monday, Blalock was hitless in 11 at-bats.

``He came into spring training and won the job. Here, he has struggled offensively and not made any adjustments,'' Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. ``At Triple-A, he'll get to play everyday. We're confident he'll be a good player, we just didn't want to see him struggle.''

Blalock hit .333 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 27 spring training games. Last season, he hit .352 in 131 games split almost equally between Class A and Double A, and .344 in the Arizona Fall League.