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Notes: Volquez makes return trip

Notes: Volquez makes return trip

ARLINGTON -- Edinson Volquez finally completed the trip from Bakersfield to Arlington.

Volquez, who started the season with the Class A Bakersfield Blaze, joined the Rangers on Wednesday in preparation for his start on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

He was 14-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 26 Minor League starts at Bakersfield, Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma, striking out 166 batters in 144 2/3 innings and holding opponents to a .190 batting average. He also walked 3.7 batters per nine innings. He walked 5.4 batters per nine innings in the Minor Leagues last year.

"Going back to Single A helped me a lot," Volquez said. "I didn't like it. It was a little bit different. It made you think. It made me think about what I had to do to get back to Triple-A and I did that. Now I'm in the Majors."

The Rangers sent Volquez all the way back to Class A for several reasons. One was to help him re-gain control and command of his pitches. Another was for him to work on developing all his pitches.

Volquez said he has done that. He has added a sinking fastball and a curveball to his repertoire.

"My curveball is a lot better," Volquez said.

The Rangers, who rushed Volquez to the big leagues two years ago and paid for it, also wanted to see more maturity on and off the field. The Rangers say he has shown that. He missed a bullpen session in Oklahoma that delayed his promotion by 1 1/2 weeks, but he responded to the punishment by pitching 13 scoreless innings over two straight starts.

"I'm an old man now," Volquez said. "I'm 24. I'm grown up. Last year, I would say, 'I'm not going to do this, I'm not going to do that.' Now, I'm going to do whatever I have to do to be successful."

Hairston replaces Metcalf: The Rangers have placed third baseman Travis Metcalf on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Jerry Hairston, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 10 with a strained rib cage muscle in his back, was activated.

Hairston was close to going on a medical rehabilitation assignment, but the Rangers decided not to wait even though he hasn't had an official at-bat since Aug. 5.

"Just dive off into the pool," Hairston said. "Sometimes that's the best way to do it. I've done it before like that. Hopefully I'll play well. The main thing is being healthy and staying healthy. You can take all the batting practice you want, but it's not like being in a game."

Metcalf strained his hamstring running to first base after dropping a bunt in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game against the White Sox. He might have missed just 4-5 days but the Rangers did not want to go even that long without an extra infielder.

"This was a perfect time for me to be playing and show I'm ready to be here," a disappointed Metcalf said. "I'm not saying I deserve to be here, but I can show them what I can do. I lay down a bunt and hustle to first base and this is what I get for it."

Improved pitching: The Rangers pitching staff is creeping back to respectability. The Rangers went into Wednesday's game with a staff ERA of 4.75 -- still the fourth highest in the American League.

But the Rangers also went into Wednesday's game with a staff ERA of 4.00 in their last 66 games, bringing down their overall ERA from a season high of 5.50 on June 14.

"We have the same guys now that we had before," manager Ron Washington said. "They've improved. They understand what we're trying to do and they're executing. They're executing pitches.

"We have [Kevin] Millwood healthy, [Vicente] Padilla is showing flashes of health, we've got [Kason] Gabbard in there, and Kam Loe is still fighting. These guys didn't give in to adversity. They've hung in there and they're reaping the benefits. They're showing they can compete."

Macko's wife passes away: Dorothy Macko, wife of longtime Rangers equipment manager Joe Macko, died Wednesday morning after a long illness. Funeral services are pending. The Rangers had a moment of silence for her and to mark the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina before Wednesday's game.

Tuesday's Minor Stars:
Gold: Chris Davis was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in Frisco's 7-6 loss to Corpus Christi. He now leads the Minor Leagues with 120 RBIs and is second with 36 home runs.

Silver: Tommy Hunter raised his record to 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA by pitching two scoreless innings in relief in Class A Spokane's 3-2 victory over Boise in 12 innings.

Bronze: Clinton first baseman Chris Kemp was 3-for-4 with an RBI in a 4-2 loss to Wisconsin.

Briefly: Brad Wilkerson started at DH on Wednesday for the first time this season. Washington said he was trying to get as many left-handed hitters in the lineup as possible against Jon Garland. ... Washington said he was unsure if Sammy Sosa will start on Thursday against White Sox left-hander John Danks. But he is planning on using Sosa on Friday against Angels starter Joe Saunders. ... Marlon Byrd turned 30 on Wednesday.

Up next: Millwood pitches against Chicago's Danks at 7:35 p.m. CT on Thursday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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