ARLINGTON -- If Adam Eaton had not severely injured the middle finger on his right hand, popular outfielder David Dellucci would likely still be with the Rangers. That didn't keep his former teammates from being shocked when Dellucci was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Robinson Tejeda and outfielder Jake Blalock. "It was a huge shock," shortstop Michael Young said Sunday morning. "I didn't see it coming. I'm absolutely shocked that one of our better players and a perfect teammate was traded before Opening Day. That's part of being in the big leagues. You just move on and be ready for tomorrow."
The Rangers open the season on Monday against the Boston Red Sox, but the focus before a Sunday workout was the loss of Dellucci, who was coming off his best season and was a leader in the clubhouse. "I was very disappointed," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "David was my best friend on the team. He'll be missed by everybody. "I don't think anybody is happy about it. He's probably the most popular player on the team and a big part of our great team chemistry." Rangers GM Jon Daniels knew that and had turned down the Phillies' interest for most of the spring. That changed when Eaton popped a tendon in that finger last Wednesday. He'll undergo surgery this week and be out for at least 12 weeks. "David's a great player, but I've said we're going to go as far as our pitching takes us," Daniels said. "Sometimes things happen that force you to make tough decisions. It's impossible to quantify David's leadership with the loss of a No. 2 starter. "If I had to choose, I wouldn't want to part with either of them." Daniels talked to players about the trade during Sunday's advance hitter's meeting, and manager Buck Showalter addressed it during his annual team meeting before Opening Day. "It's tough on everybody," said Showalter, who had Dellucci while managing in Arizona as well. "I've loved the guy for the past seven years. You don't want this to be a part of the business but like [Daniels] said, if we hadn't lost our No. 2 starter, we wouldn't have had to make that choice." Tejeda was traded on the same day his wife, Eduvergin, gave birth to their second child in Boston. Daniels talked to him on Sunday. "I don't think he had a chance to sleep," Daniels said. "The big thing is he wants to start. He knows some of the guys on the team, he knows [Vicente] Padilla, he knows some of the guys in the bullpen, he's looking forward to it. "He had me in one ear and a baby crying in the other." Tejeda was 4-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 26 games, including 13 starts, with the Phillies in 2005. Tejeda spent much of Spring Training as a reliever for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic and didn't get stretched out as a starter with the Phillies. He pitched four innings in a Minor League game on Sunday, his longest outing of the spring. "It's a gamble from our standpoint," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said. "It's one of the things involved. Right now, we are very thin below, so if we had an injury at the Major League level, it would be difficult for us to fill it. That was a thought going into this. We felt that we needed two outfielders to go with the three who are starting." The Rangers have optioned Tejeda to Triple-A Oklahoma. Unless there's an injury, he'll likely make at least two starts at Triple-A and then be reevaluated. Left-hander John Koronka, acquired on Friday, threw four innings in a simulated game on Sunday and is still scheduled to start next Friday against the Detroit Tigers. R.A. Dickey has moved up to the fourth spot, but he could also be used out of the bullpen during April between starts. Blalock is the younger brother of Hank, the Rangers' third baseman. He is expected to start the season at Double-A Frisco. Showalter talked to both Sunday and, when asked who was more excited, said "Hank and Jake's mother." Said Daniels, "We're leading the league in Blalocks and I don't think anybody is going to catch us."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.